Monday at midnight, New Jersey became the 14th state to legalize gay marriage. As supporters celebrated the latest step in the country's steady march toward marriage equality, Gov. Chris Christie was quick to withdraw his court appeal against it.
It's safe to assume, if we take polls as seriously as the pols do, that the tide was turning and Christie was not eager to drown in its undercurrent. The State Supreme Court's decision last week to allow gay marriages in the state today — Christie's appeal be damned — placed the governor at even greater risk of looking out of touch with his constituents.
And that would have been good for him. The New Jersey governor has been touted as a level-headed Republican with presidential potential, in an era when his party played with the nation's debt, threatening to alienate even its Wall Street faithful.
While it's heartening to see gay marriage garner political legitimacy in a political and cultural landscape still marred by homophobia and intolerance, Christie's move — and even President Barack Obama's sudden "evolution" into a marriage equality supporter last year — smack of political convenience.
Christie's stance should force Americans to ask themselves, how sincere is America's shift toward accepting marriage equality?
U.S. abolitionists opposed slavery, often at the risk of their lives and public humiliation. A century later, Martin Luther King, Jr. toured the country in support of civil rights. But for his efforts to make the universe bend its arc toward justice just a little sooner, he famously took a rock to his head in Chicago and, later, a bullet to his cheek in Memphis.
Chris Christie received praise this morning from the New Jersey legislature and Obama got widespread kudos last year, while the longtime fight for gay civil rights — "Stonewall," per the president's inaugural synecdoche — has become a distant memory.
Instead, the public has been celebrating just how fashionable marriage equality has become. Reassured their bottom lines won't suffer, companies have been quick to capitalize, such as last year when Nabisco posted on Facebook a picture of a rainbow-cream cookie.
Like the sweet and creamy Oreo, gay marriage now plays in Peoria. But just as slavery had always been wrong and segregation unjust preventing gays from marrying never made sense.
That is, unless like Christie, your sense of justice hinges on fashion, political convenience, or a little of both.