New Jersey Governor Chris Christie reiterated his support for marriage in an interview on CBS' "Sunday Morning," but was less decided about whether he will run for president.
He expressed his continued support for the traditional definition of marriage in announcing he will appeal Friday's decision by a New Jersey judge saying that the state constitution requires the redefinition of marriage to recognize same-sex unions.
"I do not [believe in same-sex marriage]," he said, "but what I will tell you is, that I do understand is that good people, of good will, have a difference of opinion on this, and so my view is, put it on the ballot. Let people decide."
Christie is a Republican governor of a liberal state that usually elects Democrats. Though he is pro-life and pro-traditional marriage, his statewide approval ratings remain high, 66 percent in one recent poll.
Christie is sometimes mentioned as a possible 2016 presidential contender. When asked about that in the CBS interview, he said that he has not decided whether or not he will run, and believes it is too early to make that decision.
New Jersey must allow same-sex couples to marry, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson decided Friday, because not allowing same-sex couples to marry would violate the equal protection guarantees in the state constitution, she reasoned. Gay couples must be allowed to marry beginning on Oct. 21, she wrote.
Christie vowed not to let the decision of a single judge redefine marriage for the state. Christie has said that he is personally opposed to same-sex marriage, but would go along with it for his state if the voters approve. He vetoed a bill passed by the state legislature that would have redefined marriage to include same-sex couples, and called for the issue to be decided as a state referendum. A spokesperson said Christie would appeal Judge Jacobson's decision to the state's supreme court.
"Governor Christie has always maintained that he would abide by the will of the voters on the issue of marriage equality and called for it to be on the ballot this Election Day," Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said, according to NJ.com. "Since the legislature refused to allow the people to decide expeditiously, we will let the Supreme Court make this constitutional determination."
Jacobson mentioned the Supreme Court's recent decision, U.S. vs. Windsor, as influencing her decision. In Windsor, the Supreme Court struck down a part of the Defense of Marriage Act that said marriage is defined as between one man and one woman for the purposes of federal law. Before Windsor, DOMA did not prevent New Jersey, or any other state, from redefining marriage to include same-sex unions.
The Windsor decision, Jacobson noted, set up a situation in which same-sex married couples in states that recognize same-sex marriage have some rights under federal law that same-sex married couples in states that recognize civil unions but do not recognize same-sex marriages do not have. Because of this, Jacobson concluded that New Jersey's lack of state-recognized same-sex marriages violated the U.S. Constitution and the N.J. Constitution.
"The ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits is currently harming same-sex couples in New Jersey ... ," she wrote.
Another part of DOMA, which was not struck down by the Supreme Court, actually reinforces state authority to define marriage. That part says that states do not have to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Jacobson's decision, though, implies that Windsor struck down the entire law, when she wrote that the Supreme Court "struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act."