December 11, 2009 at 4:20 pm EST | by Staff reports
Marriage bill passes N.J. Senate committee

In a 7-6 vote, a New Jersey Senate panel Monday approved legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage in the Garden State, clearing the way for a Senate floor vote.

The State Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill after hearing seven hours of public testimony. A Senate floor vote was set for Thursday, after the Agenda’s deadline.

Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality, said that with Monday’s vote, “we in New Jersey proved that we have the kind of mettle that New Jerseyans are famous for.”

“We got up off the mat, came out swinging and we won a great victory last night,” he said. “This bill was considered dead last week, after New York [senators voted against a same-sex marriage bill], and we rose, like Sisyphus, and we snatched this victory, and New Jersey can be proud today.”

Goldstein said he didn’t want to speculate on how the bill would fare on the Senate floor and that he was concentrating on the work needed to secure support for the measure.

Finding sufficient support for the bill in the Senate is seen as the greatest obstacle in legalizing same-sex marriage in New Jersey. Senate President Richard Codey told WNYC radio last month that the bill lacked unanimous support among the Democratic caucus, and Republican votes are needed to pass it.

A vote in the Assembly has not yet been scheduled. Supporters of same-sex marriage are under the gun to pass the bill. Outgoing Gov. Jon Corzine (D) has said he’d sign the legislation, but his successor, Republican Chris Christie, who will take office Jan. 19, has said he’d veto the bill.

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