Gay Marriage Stuck in New Jersey's Slow Lane

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    A supporter awaits the New Jersey Supreme court decision on same-sex marriage in front of the Supreme court building October 25, 2006 in Trenton, New Jersey.

    The last-minute decision to pull the gay marriage bill off  Thursday's voting calender was "disappointing"  said Senate President Dick Codey (D-Essex) who spent hours working on his own speech for what he termed "a historic debate."

    But it is a debate now that may never come.

    The bill sponsor's Senator Ray Lesniak (D-Union) admitted privately that the votes to pass gay marriage in the Senate just weren't there, and said the best hope now is to see if it can pass the Assembly, then come back to the Senate "with some momentum" that would allow it to pick up the 21 votes needed for passage there.

    The lack of overwhelming backing for the bill scared supporters, but opponents weren't crowing either.

    "I don't have a nose count but it's not gonna be a slam dunk, for or against," said Len Deo of  the New Jersey Family Policy Council, which opposes gay marriage.

    Supporters of gay marriage have a January 11th deadline -- the last day of this lame duck session of the Legislature. And a week later, Republican Chris Christie takes office.

    "If it were sent to me as governor I would veto it," Christie reiterated today, following his first "get together" meeting with NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

    Bloomberg, by the way, a former Republican  stood next to Christie today and once again endorsed gay marriage, "I think it's none of the government's business. I think people should be allowed to marry anybody they want."

    And Governor Jon Corzine, who said he would sign it, warned,  "If this gets delayed, I think we're missing an historic opportunity."

    Meanwhile, the halls of the Statehouse in Trenton were absolutely swarming with supporters and opponents of gay marriage, many of whom had hoped to witness what was supposed to be an historic vote in the State Senate.

    One of them was Glen Ridge High School student Hunter Woodworth, who talked about the strong support for gays at her school. "Overwhelming support with teenagers, I feel and it's kind of the future, equality for everyone," said Woodworth.

    But Leo, of the Family Policy Council, said "We believe the Civil Union law has not been given adequate time to be implemented into the culture. Two years is too short a time."