One of the signature accomplishments of the still-young session of the New Jersey legislative session has been the passage of a bill to ensure equal rights for married couples. State Senate President Stephen Sweeney and General Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver assigned the bill number as S-1 and A-1, respectively, to emphasize the significance of this historic measure.
Yet, one of the main objections from the Republicans during the debate was that very fact. They whined that with the higher-than-average unemployment rate under the Christie administration, the legislature should not have been “wasting” its time on marriage equality, but instead should have put “jobs” (their shorthand for tax breaks for millionaires) at the top of the agenda.
Contrast this action in the Garden State’s Democratically-controlled legislature to that of a Republican-controlled legislature across the river in Pennsylvania. What do you think is receiving priority treatment there? It’s a GOP-sponsored voter-suppression bill that has the support of their Tea Party fellow traveler Governor Tom Corbett. Despite the fact that there is absolutely no evidence of wholesale voter fraud, the GOP is working to deny the vote to those classes of people who don’t have proper photo ID (and typically vote Democratic). This legislation is being fast-tracked to be in place in time to influence the 2012 presidential election. So I guess, by GOP logic, voter suppression is more important than creating jobs in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania GOP will pass legislation that will inevitably embroil the state in expensive lawsuits while the New Jersey Democrats will continue to work to ensure equal rights.
I often disagree with politicians from both parties, but this example shows the fundamental difference between Democrats and Republicans. Ensuring rights vs. suppressing rights.