New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez announced his support of marriage equality today in an editorial in New Jersey's largest newspaper, The Star Ledger. The Democrat will also sign on as the 32nd sponsor of a bill to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
Since my vote in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act 15 years ago, like tens of millions of Americans, I have reflected deeply and frequently about this issue. During this time, I have engaged in discussions about the issue of marriage equality with friends, family members, colleagues and of course, the people I serve in New Jersey. I have heard and listened to many different views.
But for me, this comes down to an issue of fundamental fairness. For me, this comes down to the principles I learned as the child of immigrants and that I cherish as an American: that we believe in equality for all people under the law.
So today, I am announcing my support for the Respect for Marriage Act, which repeals DOMA and ensures that all lawfully married couples - including same-sex couples - receive the benefits of marriage under federal law.
New Jersey gay and lesbian residents can enter a civil union currently. After a government commission found that the civil unions weren't honored everywhere and failed to provide equal treatment, activists started pushing for full marriage equality. Former Governor Jon Corzine announced he would sign pro-marriage legislation but, while passed in the state senate, the bill died in the state house of representatives. Current Governor Chris Christie opposes the legislation and has announced support for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages.