When Gov. Chris Christie swiftly vetoed the most recent gay marriage bill to reach his desk late last week, a Red Bank brother and sister took to the street in protest. Well, to the sidewalk to be more exact.
Armed with a bundle of colored chalk and mission clearance from mom, Siobhan, 14, and Miles Hansen, 9, drew pictures and wrote messages in support of gay marriage along the entire stretch of sidewalk in front of their Harding Road home. The poured concrete slabs, about ten of them, alternate with pictures and written words. In one spot, an earnest declaration enforces the idea that it should be a person’s right to decide whom they want to marry, not the state’s. In the next, an innocuous portrait with a caption that’s already begun to fade, two blue stick figures hold hands.
Sara Hansen said she and her children were disappointed with Christie’s recent decision, and annoyed that, for the second time in his gubernatorial term he rejected a bill that passed both the State Senate and Assembly. When Siobhan asked her mom for an idea about what she should write on the sidewalk in response, Sara mentioned that perhaps it wasn’t too much of a stretch to point out that Christie was being a jerk.
Siobhan, a Red Bank Regional student, had another idea.
“She told me,” Sara Hansen said. “’If I don’t want to be bullied and called names in school, I won’t do it to someone else. I’ll just write what I feel.’”
So, Siobhan and her brother set to work creating a message aimed at Christie, but one without hostility or anger. Instead, it’s a pastel plea for understanding delivered by members of a generation not encumbered by the relic of an outdated definition of marriage.
Christie delivered on his promise to veto the gay marriage bill Friday afternoon and instead said the focus should be on strengthening New Jersey’s already-established civil union laws. Christie, never a political milquetoast when it comes to legislating his own agenda, abdicated personal responsibility on the issue of gay marriage. Despite challenges from civil rights leaders, Christie maintained that it should be the public’s right to decide on same-sex marriages in the form of a ballot referendum.
While Siobhan and her brother were working on their project this weekend, a few dozen people walked by, she said, with some stopping and offering words of encouragement. Some people even stepped off the sidewalk, for fear of ruining the sidewalk chalk art.
Though it’s unlikely that the message could sway Christie, even if it were to reach him, it was still one Siobhan felt she had to express.
“It’s important; it just is to me,” Siobhan Hansen said. “This is something that matters. It matters to me.”