New Jersey moves toward same-sex marriage, and possibly toward an out for Christie

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Chris Christie speaks. (Gov Christie, via flickr)
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Could it be that what's good for the cause of same-sex marriage is also good for Chris Christie?

The Democratic-held New Jersey State Senate yesterday passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage by a comfortable margin, and the Democratic-held Assembly is expected to pass it too.

Christie, a Republican who is not running for president this year but is almost certainly interested in seeking national office at some point, opposes same-sex marriage, and has advocated putting it to a referendum rather than passing legislation. This was his neat way of reconciling the majority support in New Jersey that exists for marriage equality with his own desire not to alienate a national conservative base that is in love with him, and whose feelings for him will almost certainly come in handy one day.

The thing is, the Senate's passage of the bill, as Jersey-based gay-rights advocate Steven Goldstein put it to the Times, "brought the notion of [a veto] override out of fantasyland." Goldstein put the odds of finding enough support to override Christie at "one in two."

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That would be a slap in Christie's face, for sure. But it's not clear that it would hurt. After all, if Christie vetoes same-sex-marriage legislation and gets overridden, he'll be able to tell conservatives one day, when he's asking for their support, that at least he tried to keep the liberals in check.

Perhaps Christie is watching what's happening to his chosen candidate, Mitt Romney, as the Republican primary electorate tortures him in state after state, in part because of his record as a champion of certain liberal ideas when he was governor of Massachusetts. In that context, and in the context of Christie's future presidential aspirations, an overridden veto of gay marriage starts to look like a useful credential.