Monday, November 16, 2009

New Jersey Marriage Equality Bill May Not Get a Vote

I've been reporting on the developments in New Jersey and the possibility of the state's marriage equality bill being signed before pro-LGBT Gov. John Corzine leaves office. However, the chances of a victory in the New Jersey legislature are growing smaller.

State Sen. Paul Sarlo, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, said Friday that he would not allow the bill to even be brought up in the committee unless he knew it had enough votes to be recommended to the Senate. Sarlo stated that he did not believe it had enough support.

"Today, as I stand here, we do not have the votes in the Judiciary Committee," said Sarlo according to the AP. "Until somebody can demonstrate that we have the votes in the Judiciary Committee, it will not be posted."

"I'm not going to put people in harm's way where they have to vote 'yes' or 'no' when we don't have the votes to get it out (of committee)," Sarlo went on to say.

For the bill to reach Corzine, it must also pass the Assembly, and Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts isn't sure it will be brought up this year because he wants to be sure it will pass before having it posted.

Republican Chris Christie, who is to succeed Corzine in January, is adamantly outspoken against marriage equality and has already stated he would veto any bill that reached his desk. So it comes down to garnering support in the legislature before Corzine is out of office.

New Jersey same-sex couples can enter civil unions, which were established in 2007, but studies have shown that these are not sufficient compared to marriage, which has sparked the push for the marriage equality bill.

New Jersey's Garden State Equality has launched educational ads to build support among legislators' constituents, especially in light of what happened in Maine. If strong support is apparent, it may encourage the representatives to vote on the issue.

Opposition from fundamentalists has been harsh, with the National Organization for Marriage airing radio ads and the Catholic Church organizing statewide sermons against same-sex marriage as well as others organizing protests.

ACTION: Find out how you can help at Garden State Equality.


  1. Given the pusillanimous nature of legislators, and the bigotry of Christie, perhaps the best course is to go back to the New Jersey Supreme Court and argue that the civil unions option is not working and ask that it mandate marriage. In the original case, three of the seven justices were in favor of mandating marriage. Four were in favor of leaving it up to the legislature. With the new study, perhaps one could get a fourth vote.