Today at 3PM, the New Jersey Supreme Court will issue its ruling on Lewis v. Harris, the same-sex marriage case brought by seven gay and lesbian couples. My sources all predict a victory for gay marriage advocates, which would make New Jersey the second state, after Massachusetts, to legalize gay marriage. They point to the court's liberal record (including its ruling in the Boy Scouts case), as well as the timing of the announcement. It will be the last decision released before Chief Justice Deborah Poritz retires, so the expectation is that it will be a momentous one.
Of course, my sources could all be wrong, but with the election only two weeks away, talk has already begun on how a pro-gay ruling will play out in the ballot box. In New Jersey, Democrat Bob Menendez has edged ahead of Republican Tom Kean, Jr. in polls. But it's still a close race, one that could determine the balance in the Senate. Both candidates say marriage should be between a man and a woman, and New Jersey Republicans are largely Kean-Whitman moderates, not bible belters -- so it's unlikely that a pro-gay marriage decision will shake up that particular race much.
But what are the implications nationwide? With Christian conservatives threatening to stay home, and with the Foley scandal still occupying front page real estate, is this the GOP's last chance to rally its family values base? If NJ does go the way of Massachusetts, Bush will almost certainly reiterate calls for a federal marriage amendment. But is it too little, too late? Eight states have defense of marriage amendments on the ballot this November, but polls from some of them -- Wisconsin, Arizona, Colorado and South Dakota -- indicate that the issue has lost some of its punch.
In a cynical way, I'm tickled pink that gays are now seen as sand in the electoral machine -- first gay marriage in '04 and now Foleygate in '06. Homosexuals: we're the equal opportunity spoilers, the Ross Perots of the new century. We're here! We're queer! And we will ruin your elections!
Alright, I'm getting a little too excited. I'll post again when the decision comes down. In the meantime, speculate wildly amongst yourselves.