New Jersey Assembly Passes Gay Marriage Bill, Heads to Governor’s Desk
By Brittny Drye
The New Jersey Assembly passed the gay marriage bill on Thursday. However, it doesn’t carry quite the same celebration as when Washington state’s lawmakers did the same last week, which resulted in their governor’s signage into law on Monday.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
The 42-33 vote sends the bill to Gov. Chris Christie’s desk, where the Republican governor has vowed to veto it.
The assembly passed the bill after two hours of debate about aspects of the issue including civil rights, the history of marriage, the state’s civil union law, and the prospect of putting a referendum before voters, reports The Advocate. A motion to send the bill back to committee failed, 44-31, about an hour into the discussion.
“Without question this is a historic day in the state of New Jersey,” Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver said after the vote. She said she had never been more proud of the Democratic caucus for doing “what citizens sent us here to do: to deliberate, to use the legislative process to represent the interests of all New Jerseyans.”
The bill would need several Republican votes in each house to override the governor; Christie himself essentially guaranteed that that won’t happen. Lawmakers have until the end of the legislative session in January 2014 to muster enough votes to override a veto.Based on the vote tallies this week, another three votes would be needed to reach the threshold of 27 in the 40-member Senate, and 12 votes would be needed to reach the threshold of 54 in the 80-member Assembly. In the meantime, Christie has said he’ll back a referendum that would let voters decide the issue, which, according to a recent poll, 52 percent are in favor of marriage equality.
A statement from Garden State Equality, the statewide LGBT advocacy group, said that “the legislature has brought us to the edge of the promised land” by passing the marriage equality bill.
“We are exuberant advocates but also methodical strategists,” said the group’s chairman, Steven Goldstein. “To win an override, we will take the time we need, assisted by a changing world. Look how the world changed since the last vote two years ago. We have until the end of the legislative session, January 2014. The key is winning.”
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