It turns out that you can learn something from history. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has formally withdrawn his appeal to challenge a court ruling in favor of marriage equality in The Garden State. This came shortly after a ruling in which marriages were allowed to commence in The Garden State while the appeal was happening. It seems that Christie may have learned something from the Proposition 8 case and didn’t want to be doomed to repeat the same mistakes.
In that case, California’s State Supreme Court ruled for marriage equality as well. The following November, voters passed Proposition 8, which banned gay people from getting married. A court battle ensued which ended June 2013 at the US Supreme Court in favor of marriage equality.
With the hearing having been scheduled for January 2014, but marriages happening now for couples of the same-sex, Christie could have set himself up for a very uncomfortable position. He would have solidified his attachment to fighting against the rights of same-sex, loving, committed couples win or loose. Christie may have seen the writing on the wall. That equality is happening, will happen and we won’t stop until we achieve it. This would have made from some challenging debate answers should Christie make a run for president in 2016 or even after; especially, if the appeals went beyond the State Supreme Court of New Jersey. Instead of that potential years-long fight, we get Christie’s withdrawal. His hope, perhaps, is to withdraw himself from the association of being anti-equality.
I believe that we are seeing the very first small step in the evolution of Chris Christie. Though he has reiterated his stance that he believes marriage to be between a man and woman only, even if one of his own children were gay, I believe that he, like others will change his mind and his heart. This certainly would be the smart political move, and Christie isn’t a political fool. The 2016 political state, if that’s where he will set his sights, will be a very different landscape from today. It will be one that will tolerate anti-equality views much less, perhaps, not at all. A court case against equality would be a very large and unwelcome bit of history to add to your record. Instead, it’s much better to try and expunge that from your record now, while your change in position still might be accepted later on down the road.
And what a potential, modern-day, political ‘Scrooge’ story that might set you up for. The miserly, hard, cold, unfeeling, obstructing man is visited by three ghosts. These would be represented by New Jersey’s past civil unions; their present marriage equality; and their future prosperity with potential business they’ll attract as an equality state and the destination weddings in all those seaside locales. The miser’s heart and mind is changed and he embraces his more loving generous self. Perhaps, we may see Governor Christie buy Mr. and Mr. Cratchet the biggest, most prized turkey for their wedding reception feast. Like Scrooge, you’ll be welcomed and loved by all the community, more so than if you continued on with the fight when all signs point clearly to equality. This change has the potential to show you as a man of thought and compassion. A man who isn’t, forgive the phrase, married to his opinions. It shows you as someone who can come to learn from your past mistakes; who isn’t a hard-liner; who can take new information to modify your stances to make a more perfection union. Who wouldn’t warm to that kind of political story. Who wouldn’t want someone who isn’t a flip-flopper, but instead is someone who is willing to grow for the betterment of America over all. That’s a much more winning backstory even if you did start out against equality.
I do expect that we will see a more fair and more equality-minded Christ Christie in the years to come. I do think that it won’t just be a politically calculated evolution on his part. For as we have changed hearts and minds of people by just knowing us and seeing us as happy, committed stable couples, those same images will also help to change the core of Chris Christie on this issue—now that those images will be coming out of his own home state.