Time is Ticking on NJ Gay Marriage Decision

Same-sex marriage supporters want a vote even if it fails

By Brian Thompson
|  Monday, Jan 4, 2010  |  Updated 9:56 PM EDT
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Time is Ticking on NJ Gay Marriage Decision

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Supporters of same sex marriage, seen here in a 2006 rally, want the state Senate to vote on the issue before Gov.-elect Chris Christie takes office.

New Jersey state Senate President Dick Codey said he would vote for a marriage equality bill that passed committee last year. But with just days left in the lame duck session, Codey said he won't decide until Tuesday on whether to bring it to the floor of the full Senate for debate and a vote.

"Is it fair to post a bill if there's not enough votes?" asked Codey, referring to his headcount of colleagues showing that gay marriage would fall short by four or more votes needed for passage.

"Of course we want a vote," said Steve Goldstein of Garden State Equality, an organization that has been fighting for marriage equality for years now.

But Goldstein admitted he got "no pledge" that there would be a vote following a hastily arranged meeting with Senate President Codey.

That followed yet another rally in front of the Statehouse in Trenton, when a hundred or so supporters of gay marriage demonstrated yet again.

Deborah Smith, 67 of Scotch Plains, was frank when asked why there is so much reluctance to accept gay marriage. "If it's only seen as sex, it freaks people out and they don't want it," Smith said.

She wants to marry her partner before she turns 70, in part so they can look after each other in their golden years. To her, same sex marriage is more than sex, "It's companionship, it's partnership, it's mutual support, it's love and affection, it's paying the mortgage."

But there's been a sea change in legislative support for same sex marriage in recent months. Opponent Len Deo of the Family Policy Council noted the New York legislature's rejection, along with results from the November elections. Maine voters rejected gay marriage, and in New Jersey,

"I think Chris Christie winning the election was important because Governor Corzine ran as the 'marriage equality' candidate," said Deo.

Republican Christie will take office a week after the end of the lame duck session, and has vowed to veto any 'same sex' marriage bill if it passes at any time during his four-year term.

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