Gay Marriage Bill Passes NJ Senate in Milestone Vote

The New Jersey Senate passed a same-sex marriage bill on Monday by a vote of 24-16, largely along party lines. It’s just three votes shy of what’s needed to override the promised veto by Governor Chris Christie.

Only two members from each party crossed lines. Two Democrats voted against the bill, while two Republicans voted for it.

Before the vote, Senate President Stephen Sweeney urged Republicans to split with Governor Christie on this issue.

"I also know you’ve been confronted with political retribution for doing so,” Sweeney told the senators. “But when marriage equality was enacted in New York, and more recently in Washington State, it could not have been done without the support of courageous Republicans who bucked their party bosses because they knew they had  to do the right.”

Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) also gave an impassioned speech in which she named friends and family members for whom she intended to cast her vote for gay marriage. “Who are we to say that basic equal rights should be denied to any citizens simply because we are uncomfortable with the nature of their relationship,” Weinberg said.

On the other side of the issue, Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Cresskill) spoke against the measure, explaining that it would be wrong to overturn centuries of past practice. “Indeed this bill relies on politically correct notions to obfuscate the obvious,” Cardinale said. “Gender and gender difference are self evident realities.”

It was the first time either chamber of the state Legislature has passed such a bill. A previous measure failed in the Senate in January 2010, the only other time gay marriage has come up for a vote in New Jersey.

The bill now goes to the New Jersey Assembly on Thursday. It’s expected to pass, and then Democratic leaders say they will begin work on gathering the extra votes to override the governor’s promised veto. They would have until January 2014 to do so.