By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
In a stunning defeat for proponents of same-sex marriage, New Jersey lawmakers failed in their last-ditch effort to pass a same sex marriage bill before swearing in a new governor who opposes the measure later this month.
According to NewJerseyNewsroom.com, lawmakers voted 20-14 against the measure after 90 minutes of debate and numerous attempts to persuade several senators who were abstaining to take a side.
“The bill is defeated,” Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex) declared at 4:39 p.m. yesterday.
This marks the end of four years of lobbying for the legislation by proponents who did manage to get a civil union bill passed that grants same-sex couples the same legal benefits as married couples but stops short of calling them “married.”
“ . . .(O)ur civil union law does not work and actually encourages unequal treatment of same-sex couples and their children,” said Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr. (D-Camden), who was the prime sponsor of the legislation. “We cannot tolerate anything less than equal treatment for all committed couples, so while this is a difficult day, I remain optimistic that marriage equality still remains a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if.'”
Outgoing Governor Jon Corzine, who was hoping to sign the bill into law before he leaves office later this month, expressed his deep disappointment in the defeat of the measure. “Denying any group of people a fundamental human right because of who they are, or whom they love, is wrong, plain and simple.”
Opponents of the bill, such as Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morris), chairman of the state Republican Party, said the vote reflects the will of the people who were largely against the measure.
“From the beginning, republicans have opposed legislative and judicial efforts to redefine marriage in New Jersey and called for any changes to be put on the ballot for voters to decide,” Webber said. “We believe that the majority of New Jerseyans agree with that position, and following the failure of this bill in today’s Senate vote. I am heartened to see that the Senate has respected the will of the people.”
However, homosexual activists, such as Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality, say they may now look to the courts as a way to get same-sex marriage into law in New Jersey.
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