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Christie Sticks To Position On Gay Marriage; Sweeney Blasts Ballot Move As ‘Punting’

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Gov. Chris Christie holds a news conference at the Statehouse - Trenton, NJ - Jan 25, 2012 (credit: Governor's Office)

Gov. Chris Christie holds a news conference at the Statehouse – Trenton, NJ – Jan 25, 2012 (credit: Governor’s Office)

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TRENTON, NJ (CBSNewYork) - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s position on gay marriage hasn’t changed.

If a gay marriage bill lands on his desk, Christie say’s he’ll veto it.

LISTEN: Sweeney With Steve Scott (Subscribe to Eye on Politics HERE)

That’s why the governor feels advocates for the issue should be thrilled with his recommendation to put it to voters.

“As an excuse for their support for this legislation, they trot around polling that says a majority of the people in New Jersey want gay marriage. Well, okay, if a majority of the people in New Jersey want gay marriage, then put it on the ballot and prove it,” he said.

Christie insists his suggestion is not about removing himself from politically treacherous waters.

“I never innoculate myself from criticism. I’m the governor of New Jersey.”

Now it’s up to advocates to make their next move.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell On The Story

Two of New Jersey’s most influential black leaders are blasting Gov. Chris Christie for wanting to put gay marriage up for a popular vote.

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver and Newark Mayor Cory Booker say civil rights are guaranteed by the constitution and don’t belong at the ballot box.

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney also blasted Christie’s idea.

“The last time they did that in 1915 in New Jersey, women’s right to vote was lost in New Jersey,” Sweeney told WCBS 880’s Steve Scott on Wednesday.

He called the ballot move “punting.”

“For anyone to think, even though it’s 2012, that prejudice and ignorance doesn’t still exist, it does and we’re not going to put a civil rights issue on a ballot,” said Sweeney. “The governor talks about leadership. Well, let’s lead.”

Sweeney also denied talking about polls, as referred to by Christie.

“You don’t poll civil rights,” he said. “Why not have the courage to let it move forward and not inflict your will upon your caucus.”

Oliver says such a referendum in the 1960s would not have brought equal rights to minorities. And Booker says he wouldn’t have had the chance to become a mayor.

What do you think? Should gay marriage be decided in Trenton or on the ballot? Sound off in the comments section below!

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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