NJ Gay Marriage Advocates Courting Support

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Will gay marraige come to a vote in New Jersey?

    Advocates for a marriage law that includes gays and lesbians put on a full court press as a six week lame duck session of the Legislature opened in Trenton Monday.

    Shouts of "equality now" were heard on  the steps of the statehouse, while all day, dozens of advocates tried to buttonhole legislators and anyone else who would listen to arguments that New Jersey should join the handful of states that allow gay marriage.

    But senators and assemblymen who support gay marriage aren't sure they have the votes to get it passed while Gov. Jon Corzine, who supports the measure, is still in office. "I think I've got the votes in committee," said Senate Judiciary Chairman Paul Sarlo(D) Wood-ridge, but he admitted no one is sure yet there is a majority in the 40 seat senate, where Democrats rule by a 23 to 17 margin.

    "In 31 of 31 states, once people have had the right to vote on it, they voted to protect marriage," said opponent Len Deo of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, arguing that the only measure the legislature should approve is one that would set up a referendum on the controversial bill.

    "People get to decide American Idol, not my constitutional rights," countered Elder Reverend Kevin Taylor of the Unity Fellowship Church in New Brunswick who was among more than a hundred advocates for gay marriage on the Capitol steps.

    Senate President Dick Codey is on record saying he won't bring the measure for a vote if he doesn't think it will pass. But for supporters of the change, there is not much time. Republican Chris Christie takes power January 19th, and he has promised repeatedly to veto any marriage equality bill during his four year term.

    That left Garden State Equality President Steve Goldstein threatening Democrats at the rally, "Here is a warning to our party, you can't take us for granted anymore."