Fate Of Marriage Measure Unclear

STATE—Two top lawmakers cast doubt on whether New Jersey will give a green light to marriage equality for gays and lesbians before the Garden State gets a new governor who has vowed to stop the civil liberties legislation.

New Jersey’s state Supreme Court ruled that, whether it is called marriage or not, gay and lesbian couples are entitled to all the rights and benefits of joining together granted to heterosexual couples.


State Senate President Richard Codey said there may not be enough support in his caucus toward moving marriage equality for gays and lesbians to bring legislation up for a vote in the lame duck session.

Democrats hold a 23 to 17 majority in the state Senate, but Codey said garnering the required 21 votes for same-sex marriage to pass is unlikely without some GOP support.

Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts said he would only bring the issue up for debate if there appeared to be enough votes to pass it. Democrats hold a 47 to 33 majority in the Assembly, where 41 votes are required to okay legislation.

Codey and Roberts are Democrats who support marriage equality.

“There’s not unanimous support within the Democratic caucus for it,” said Codey. “There’s members that will not be voting for it so clearly there would have to be some Republican votes for it to pass the Senate.”

If there are no agreements to clear a bill before Republican Governor-elect Chris Christie takes office in January, the issue will probably be dead.
During the campaign, the Republican declared that he opposes same sex marriage and said if a bill came to his desk, he would veto it. Gov. Jon Corzine has pledged to sign a marriage equality bill.

New Jersey’s high court decreed that the current civil union law is not working.

Garden State Equality, the state’s largest gay rights organization, launched two television commercials to show that the state’s civil union law is inadequate and to dispute opposition arguments that gays and lesbians having the right to marry threatens heterosexual families.

“It won’t affect your marriage,” says a tag line on the ads. “But it will mean everything to them.”

Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, and Patrick Brannigan, executive director of the New Jersey Catholic Conference, each said their members want to stop lawmakers from approving a gay marriage bill.
A senior official in the Corzine administration said marriage equality is a top priority for the departing governor because it would be the last major piece of his social policy agenda.
“The struggle for equal rights has been a long, frustrating battle for lesbians and gays,” said Seattle Times Editorial Page Editor Ryan Blethen.

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