Senate To Vote On Bills To Legalize Gay Marriage, Offer In-State Tuition To Illegal Immigrants

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TRENTON – The full Senate will reconvene on Thursday, Jan. 7, at 2 p.m. to consider a board list that includes S-1967, the “Freedom of Religion and Equality in Civil Marriage Act,” better known as the “Marriage Equality” bill.

“[The] vote will determine whether tens of thousands of New Jerseyans are able to live in peace and happiness, the same way that other New Jerseyans have always been permitted to live their lives,” said Senator Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, a prime sponsor of the bill. “This vote is bigger than party, and it’s bigger than politics.”

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“This vote is about the rights of gay couples from whom we heard heart-wrenching stories of pain inflicted, unknowingly and knowingly, as a result of our law which fails to secure for them the rights of marriage, in its import and in its application,” said Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, D-Union, a prime sponsor of the bill. “To guarantee these couples those rights, as required by the Constitution of the State of New Jersey, and to relieve them of the fear and pain from being denied those rights, I urge my fellow lawmakers to vote yes for marriage equality.”

The Senate will also vote on S-1036, sponsored by Senators Ronald L. Rice, D-Essex, Sandra Bolden Cunningham, D-Hudson and Teresa Ruiz, D-Essex, which would allow certain undocumented immigrants to qualify for in-state tuition rates at public colleges and universities.

The bill has drawn fire from opponents of illegal immigration.

“This is a classic example of lawmakers who support illegal aliens more than American citizens, using an underhanded tactic to provide taxpayer benefits to illegal immigrants at the expense of innocent Americans,” said William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC.

The Senate is also scheduled to give final legislative approval to S-2938, a measure sponsored by Senate President Richard J. Codey, D-Essex, which would increase the penalties for the crime of jury tampering.


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