Editorial: Christie sets precedent for future presidential candidates to follow

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

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The move finally happened: Gov. Chris Christie finally rescinded his appeal of a state court decision that allowed gay and lesbian couples to marry legally in New Jersey. Although Christie still stands for the traditional concept of nuptials as strictly between a man and woman, this move sheds light on the strategies Republicans must adopt for the next presidential election.

Citing the Equal Protection Clause and the recent benefits federal agencies have granted to same-sex couples, Judge Mary Jacobson of the New Jersey Superior Court ruled last month that same-sex couples have to be married to uphold both a constitutional and legal standard.

On Friday, the New Jersey Supreme Court endorsed Jacobson’s decision unanimously. 

“Same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today,” said Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. And he’s right. The Department of Health and Human Services, Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service have all updated their policies federally to give same-sex couples more benefits.

Christie’s personal position against same-sex marriage derives from his socially conservative roots, yet his allowance of marriage for same-sex couples embodies the Republican Party’s shift to appeal to more voters.

Christie’s move to allow marriage between same-sex couples is strategic primarily because it further primes his image for the 2016 presidential election — an race in which he will likely run — by pleasing both major political parties.

Democrats will salute Christie on the issue. By lifting the appeal of the state court’s decision and citing the support this decision has received from both the citizens of New Jersey and the judiciary branch, Christie exemplifies a governor who places the word of his constituents over his own.

Republicans, on the other hand, cannot be entirely upset with Christie. He hasn’t changed stances on same-sex marriage because he made it clear that he still opposes it.

“Although the governor strongly disagrees with the court … [it] has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey Constitution, and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law,” said the statement from Christie’s aides.

Christie’s decision not only illustrates a sense of bipartisanship that the current political climate is stranger to, but also sets a precedent for future Republican presidential candidates. Traditional conservatives looking to become president cannot solely rely on their party’s agenda to win votes: They will need to appeal to a larger, more moderate demographic to have any chance of winning. 

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