Governor vetoes bid to bar New Jersey Catholic cemeteries from selling headstones, but backs eventual passage
February 06, 2015
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey has vetoed a bill that would have blocked Catholic cemeteries from selling gravestones. But the governor indicated that he would support the legislation if it took effect after a one-year delay.
In his veto message, Christie observed that the law—which had been approved by both houses of the state legislature—would have taken effect immediately. Arguing that this would have a disruptive effect on grieving families, he said that cemeteries should have time to “adjust their services.”
The legislation was strongly opposed by the Archdiocese of Newark, where Catholic cemeteries had begun selling headstones in 2013. That business promised substantial profits for the archdiocesan cemeteries. But private sellers of memorials charged that the archdiocese was exploiting its dominant position and its non-profit status to drive them out of business.
In giving overwhelming approval to the legislation that would have barred religious cemeteries from the business of selling headstones and other memorials, New Jersey legislators rejected the arguments of Newark’s Archbishop John Myers, who had said that the bill was a violation of religious freedom and would have an “extremely negative” impact on consumers.
A spokesman for the independent sellers of headstones said that the passage of the bill was an “absolute win” despite the governor’s veto. He said that the governor’s call for similar legislation, with a one-year delay in implementation, assures the independent sellers of a favorable outcome.
The Newark archdiocese, for its part, issued a statement saying that it was grateful for the governor’s action, “so that we may continue to serve our people in their time of need in the coming year."
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- Rebuffing appeal from archdiocese, Christie supports ban on headstone sales by religious cemeteries (NJ.com)
- Newark archdiocese in battle with gravestone makers, funeral directors (CWN, 12/23/14)
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