New Jersey’s first openly gay state lawmaker is proposing a ballot measure for voters to decide whether the state should recognize same-sex marriage — a suggestion similar to the one gay-marriage opponent Gov. Chris Christie made less than a year ago. At the time, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora opposed the governor’s suggestion and compared him to segregationists of earlier decades who wanted civil rights issues decided by majority vote. For that, Christie called the lawmaker “numb nuts.” But now Gusciora has changed his mind, emboldened by November elections when voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington state approved same-sex marriage and Minnesota voters defeated a state constitutional amendment to ban it. Gusciora says the state Legislature might not be able to get a gay marriage bill past “the bully-in-chief” governor and the courts may not rule favorably for gay rights advocates. He says a popular vote on legalizing gay marriage is not his top choice but it is worth a try if marriage rights cannot be won otherwise. “At this point, we have no other choice,” Gusciora said. The lawmaker’s 180-degree turn on that point in the gay marriage debate reflects the shifting politics surrounding the issue in New Jersey.
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