Gay Marriage Clock Ticking in NJ

By Brian Thompson
|  Sunday, Jan 3, 2010  |  Updated 3:30 PM EDT
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New Jerseyans want gay marriage now -- and they have signs to show it.

New Jerseyans want gay marriage now -- and they have signs to show it.

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With just days left in its lame duck session, State Senate President Dick Codey admitted "I'm still trying hard to figure out what to do" on posting gay marriage for a vote.

This political "hot potato" was pulled from the Senate's voting agenda in early December when sponsors realized they didn't have the 21 votes needed to get it passed.

"Both Loretta(Weinberg) and I have asked (Codey) to post it for a vote," said State Senator Ray Lesniak(D-Union), referring to his Senate colleague who together are sponsoring a bill that would give gay and lesbian couples full marriage equality.

"It's got maybe 16, if you stretch it 17 votes," said Codey, noting that's far short of the 21 votes needed for passage in the New Jersey State Senate. "It couldn't pass in a million years," he added.

But a prediction of defeat doesn't mean Codey won't allow gay marriage to come up for a vote.

"We should not duck it, we should not run away from it, we should vote our conscience," said Lesniak. When asked directly if the numbers were there, Lesniak added, "I think we won't know if the votes are there until we vote."

While Codey said he's still trying to decide what to do, he admitted that Jan. 7 is the last possible day the State Senate could consider the bill and still get it over to the Assembly in time for it to act. The Assembly's last session day is Jan. 11.

Soon after that, Republican Chris Christie will be sworn in as governor, and he has vowed to veto any gay marriage bill during his four years as Chief Executive.

Senate sponsors actually tried to get the Assembly to consider the bill first after they pulled it almost a month ago, but in a New Year's Eve surprise, Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts, who supports gay marriage, said he thought the proper place for the first vote would be in the Senate. In saying that, he refused to allow the Assembly to act until the matter is decided in the Senate.

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