Whether same-sex marriage should be legal in New Jersey ought to be decided by the Legislature, not in the court of public opinion. Senate President Stephen Sweeney believes lawmakers, not voters, should decide one of the most divisive social issues of the day, and he is right. While some states have approved gay marriage in referendums, success cannot be guaranteed against a well-financed public relations campaign. Imagine if the desegregation of schools had been left to be decided by voters in Southern states that at the time treated blacks like second-class citizens. New Jersey lawmakers should stop debating the process and have the courage to take a clear stand on same-sex marriage. "It is the job of elected officials to ensure that everyone is provided equal protection and equal rights under the law," Sweeney said. "We should not hide from that responsibility. A bill recently introduced by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D., Mercer) would put the issue on the ballot in November and let voters decide whether to amend the state constitution to give gays and lesbians the right to marry. Sen. Christopher "Kip" Bateman (R., Somerset) introduced similar legislation calling for a ballot question earlier this year.
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