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New Jersey State Senate Passes Same-Sex Marriage Legislation

Braden Holly |
February 13, 2012 | 10:55 a.m. PST

Executive Producer

Image courtesy of Creative Commons.
Image courtesy of Creative Commons.
The New Jersey State Senate voted 24-16 to pass a measure legalizing gay marriage Monday.

Though the bill has passed New Jersey’s Senate and is headed to the assembly, it may face a serious stumbling block, Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

Gov. Christie has vowed to veto the bill but says that he is a supporter of New Jersey’s civil union laws, according to the Associated Press.

If New Jersey were to legalize same-sex marriage, it would likely be the seventh state to do so, as same-sex marriage is already legal in six states and Gov. Christine Gregoire is expected to sign legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage Monday.

New Jersey, however, is different in one key respect from Washington, gubernatorial support for same-sex marriage.

According to the Associated Press:

Christie said he wants to put a change in the definition of marriage to a public vote.

But gay rights groups oppose a referendum. They see gay marriage as a civil rights matter and argue that it should not be up to the masses to protect the rights of a minority group. They also believe that a nasty campaign from social conservatives could erode the narrow majority of support that public polls show gay marriage has in New Jersey.

However, gay rights groups are prepared for Christie to veto the measure and have other plans in place.

The Associated Press reported:

If Christie vetoes the measure, the Legislature would have until January 2014 to override it by getting two-thirds of the votes in each chamber. Advocates hope that with nearly two years, they can change enough votes to get the legislation adopted.

The other route is through the courts. Five years ago, New Jersey's state Supreme Court ruled that gay couples should have the same rights as married heterosexual couples. In response, the Legislature created civil unions.

However, many gay rights advocates feel that civil unions, though intended to confer the same rights as marriage, are not the same, and should be eliminated in favor of same-sex marriage.



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