New Jersey Senate Passes Marriage Equality Bill; Christie Vows Veto
The New Jersey state Senate passed a bill to recognize same-sex marriages today, in what many are calling a civil rights milestone, the AP reports.
Chairman of the gay rights group Garden State Equality said of the vote: “It means the world isn’t changing, it means the world has already changed.”
If made into law, the bill would make New Jersey the eighth state to recognize same-sex marriage, as Washington state Governor Christine Gregoire signed legislation today making same-sex marriage legal in that state.
Today’s 24-16 vote in favor of the bill marks a swing in opinion from a January 2010 vote where the Senate rejected the bill 20-14. It’s also perhaps indicative of the growing momentum of gay marriage rights in general, and the increasing popular support of legislature recognizing same-sex marriage — especially in the northeast. Two of New Jersey’s closest neighbors – Connecticut and New York — passed legislation recognizing gay marriage on November 12, 2008 and July 24, 2011, respectively. New Jersey created legal unions for same-sex couples in June, 2009. While this was a step in the direction of marriage equality, it also colors the state as reactionary when compared to the legalized gay marriage offered in Connecticut since 2008 and Massachusetts since 2004.
The marriage equality bill faces opposition, however, from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie — not a big fan of civil liberties — who has said that he will veto the bill. Christie, whose political career has been defined by cronyism and questionable ethics, stands on the wrong side of history. As old prejudices about marriage and gender born of ignorance erode, Christie’s already tarnished legacy may be increasingly defined by his backwards stance on this civil rights issue. Christie has attempted to deflect some criticism by claiming this is an issue that should be put to a referendum. That the rights of a minority group should be decided by a popular vote is dubious, to say the least.
An override of a Christie veto would take two-thirds of both chambers of the state Legislature by the time the current session ends in January 2014. Senator Raymond Lesniak said that if lawmakers voted their conscience rather than caving to political pressure, there would be enough Senate votes now to override a veto.
Image: Associated Press
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