The New Jersey Assembly voted 41-33 on Thursday to legalize same-sex marriage. Earlier this week the Senate approved a companion bill by 24-16 votes.
Back in 2010, marriage equality was defeated in the state Senate. New Jersey did, however, institute a domestic partnership law in 2002 and legalized civil unions in 2006.
This time, eight legislators who voted against the bill or did not vote at all in 2010 voted in favor of it now.
The bill permits gay and lesbian couples to enter into a civil marriage while allowing religious organizations to choose whether to perform same-sex marriages.
Gov. Chris Christie had said publicly he would “act swiftly” to veto the bill and possibly let the public decide on the issue in a voter referendum.
In her recent state of the city address, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer said she would oppose Christie on this issue, even though she has supported him on others.
“It should not go to referendum,” said Secaucus-based Assemblyman Vincent Prieto last week. “We are voted in by the people to make those tough decisions and not just to kick the can down the road…It is more of a civil rights matter at this time.”
Prieto added, “Our respective houses will try and do a veto override.” Overriding the veto requires two-thirds approval from both houses – 27 Senate votes out of 40 and 54 Assembly votes out of 80. The legislature has two years to come up with the additional votes.
Prieto said that he was present during a vote in 2006 allowing civil unions, but the legislation did not work because same-sex couples continued to experience discrimination and did not have the same rights as married couples.
“Our respective houses will try and do a veto override.” – Vincent Prieto
All three Hudson County Senators, Nicholas Sacco, Brian Stack, and Sandra B. Cunningham, favored the bill.
North Bergen Mayor and State Sen. Sacco was one of the individuals who had voted against the measure in 2010, but changed his mind for the recent vote.
“I just feel that [if] two people, whether they are two men, two women, or a man and a woman, love each other, they deserve to be married,” Stack told a local daily newspaper.
A recent Rutgers-Eagleton Poll shows that 54 percent of Garden State voters say gay marriage should be legalized. Fewer than 40 percent oppose such a move, while 7 percent have no position on the issue. Proponents of legalizing marriage argue that it is a fundamental right, while opponents fear gay marriage will dilute the institution of marriage.
New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Iowa and Washington D.C. have all legalized marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Lawmakers in Illinois and Maryland are debating the issue, while Minnesota and North Carolina propose to ban same-sex marriage. A federal appeals court overturned California’s gay marriage ban earlier this month. The ban had been instituted through Proposition 8 – a 2008 ballot initiative.
To comment on this story online visit www.hudsonreporter.com. Adriana Rambay Fernández can be reached at email@example.com.