posted by Zach Patton
Here on the 13th Floor, it's pretty hard not to think of things in political terms. We're in D.C., we cover state and local government, and Election Day is on 12 days away. Everything seems to have a tinge of red or blue.
So yesterday, when I saw the New Jersey Supreme Court's decision requiring the state to recognize marriage rights (if not actual "marriage") for same-sex couples, my first thought wasn't about gay rights or the culture wars.
My first thought was, "What's this going to mean on Nov. 7???"
Maybe it's cold or heartless to think in such political terms -- although I'm sure I had millions of like-minded cohorts.
But I can't help but wonder whether -- or, really, to what extent -- this decision is going to undo some of the national momentum that Democrats appeared to be enjoying. It's kind of a no-brainer to suggest that this decision, while not quite as pro-gay as the one in Massachusetts in 2003, will help energize conservatives across the country.
It's true that conservatives don't seem to be all that happy with Republicans right now, either. So on the one hand, the New Jersey decison may not have a large national impact. On the other hand, this could be just the spark necessary to get conservatives out on election day -- especially in the eight states with gay marriage bans on the ballot.
Finally, I wonder if New Jersey's relatively nuanced decision (relative to Massachusetts', that is, where gay couples can flat-out get married) may ultimately be the deciding factor. The state has to provide equal rights for same-sex couples, the state supreme court said, but it's not the court's place to say whether that should be called "marriage."
There are a lot of people who support gay rights but stop short of supporting actual, in-name gay marriage. The New Jersey decision may just split the difference for them.
At any rate, we don't have to wait long to find out exactly how this will affect voters -- polls close in less than 296 hours!!