Same-Sex Marriage Hearings Take Center Stage in Trenton

Same-sex marriage is set to take center stage in Trenton on Tuesday as a proposed bill gets its first hearing in the state Senate. Gay rights activists and those who oppose the bill are expected to be at the statehouse in large numbers for rallies outside and to testify at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Two years ago, a similar bill failed to pass the Senate. But this time around, Senate President Stephen Sweeney introduced the bill on the first day of the legislative session, saying it was the Democrats’  top priority. That’s a turnaround from two years ago when Sweeney abstained on a similar measure.

“In New Jersey, we're fighting a marriage equality battle through legislation and through the courts, a two-front battle, and that's going to continue,” said Stephen Goldstein, chief executive of Garden State Equality. “And assuming the governor vetoes the bill, we are going to surge forth and try to override it.”

The group is also bringing a lawsuit through the state courts that challenges the prohibition against same-sex marriage as discriminatory.

The hearing comes just a day after Governor Chris Christie nominated the first openly gay man to be a state Supreme Court judge.