Marriage Equality in New Jersey

Following the defeat of the marriage equality bill in the New York state legislature, gay marriage advocates have shifted their attention to New Jersey where state legislators are working hard to put a bill on Governor Jon Corzine’s desk before he is replaced with Chris Cristie who has said that he would veto any form of the bill if given the opportunity.

New Jersey’s marriage equality bill was expected to be put to a vote last Thursday after it had left the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, but its chief sponsors Senators Ray Lesniak and Loretta Weinberg asked for a postponement until they were able to secure enough votes to pass the bill. The legislation is now sitting in the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Lesniak courtesy of njleg.state.nj.us

Advocates are pushing for the bill to be voted upon in the state assembly, the chamber which they believe is more likely to pass the measure. “If it had gone up for a vote last week, it wouldn’t have passed and it would’ve died,” said Deborah Francica, Chief of Staff to Sen. Weinberg. “The only way to save the bill is to refer it to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.”

Sen. Weinberg courtesy of njleg.state.nj.us

The bills’ sponsors hope that once it passes the assembly, the state senate will be more likely to pass it. “I guess that’s the train of thought,” Francica said. “That’s what the sponsors are saying.”

Even those close to the process don’t know how long it will take. Francica was unsure when the bill would leave Judiciary and make it’s way to the floor for a vote. “I have no idea,” she said. “They’re still working that out now.”

The primary effort of the bill is to legally define marriage as the union of two consenting adults, revising what is previously thought to be the definition being the union of a consenting man and woman. “‘Marriage’ means the legally recognized union of two consenting persons in a committed relationship,” the bill reads. “Whenever the term ‘marriage’ occurs or the term ‘man,’ ‘woman,’ ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ occurs in the context of marriage or any reference is made thereto in any law, statute, rule, regulation or order, the same shall be deemed to mean or refer to the union of two persons pursuant to this amendatory and supplementary act.”

The Empire State Pride Agenda was unable to be reached to comment on how the bills passage could affect the New York LGBTQ community.

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