Marriage is too important to be treated like a political football and any redefinition should be voted on by the people, the Governor of the US state of New Jersey has said.
The state is facing pressure to redefine marriage for homosexual couples but Governor Chris Christie has said the issue should be left in the hands of the people.
In Scotland there is also pressure to redefine marriage and the campaign group Scotland for Marriage is calling for a referendum on the issue.
Governor Christie said he would veto legislation on same-sex marriage if it came to him but he also said a referendum was necessary because the state was discussing “huge change”.
He continued: “It’s too serious – the institution of marriage is too serious to be treated like a political football.”
Governor Christie commented: “So, if New Jersey is seriously looking to overturn hundreds of years of societal, legal and religious tradition, we need to give the issue the weight that it merits.”
He also said: “Let’s let the people of New Jersey decide what is right for the state.”
Governor Christie called for a vote this autumn, when people in his state would already be voting in the presidential election, and said he would abide by a decision made by the people.
A homosexual lobby group reacted angrily to the proposal, saying it was “one thousand percent” opposed to a referendum.
However a pro-family group in the state backed the idea commenting: “Let the people decide”.
Since 1998, in every state where citizens have had the opportunity to vote on the definition of marriage, they have backed the traditional definition.
In Scotland the Government held a consultation on redefining marriage last year. Tens of thousands of people responded.
Scotland for Marriage, which is backed by The Christian Institute and other religious and non-religious groups, says the “issue should be decided by the people, not by politicians”. The group has a petition on the issue here.