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NJ Lawmakers Introduce, Fast Track Marriage Equality Bill: VIDEO


The New Jersey "Freedom to Marry" bill has been placed on a high priority fast track, a group of lawmakers said today, introducing the bill in Trenton.

Senator Steve Sweeney, who introduced the bill for a Senate, voted against the marriage equality bill when it was up for a vote last year and called it the biggest mistake of his career, reiterating remarks he made earlier this year.

OliverAssemblywoman Sheila Oliver, who introduced the bill to the Assembly, spoke about Loving v. Virginia and interracial marriage, emphasizing that marriage equality is a matter of civil rights.

Watch Senator Sweeney, Assemblywoman Oliver, and Assemblyman Reed Gusciora speak in support of the bill, AFTER THE JUMP...

The Star-Ledger reports:

At a press conference attended by nearly a dozen top Democrats in the Senate and Assembly, Sweeney said the marriage equality bill will go to key legislative committees "immediately.’’ Further, he said he wants a floor vote in the Senate before the budget break, which is in March.

He said he expects there will be enough votes in both houses to pass the measure (A1 and S1) but noted the battle will come when the bill reaches Christie’s desk for enactment.

"It’s gonna be a fight. We expect it to be a fight,’’ Sweeney said. "The governor’s a decent person and I think we can work on educating him to the fact of what it means.’’

Said Freedom to Marry’s National Campaign Director Marc Solomon: "Freedom to Marry is proud to partner with Garden State Equality and New Jersey’s tremendous legislative leaders, Senate President Sweeney and House Speaker Oliver, as we work together to make New Jersey the next state to end the exclusion of gay couples from marriage.  What New Jersey’s legislative leaders are telling us clearly today is that the Garden State values its gay and lesbian citizens fully, and does not accept treating same-sex couples and their families as second class citizens, as it presently does with civil unions.  Marriage matters for same-sex couples and their families, both because it says we’re a family through thick and thin in a way that nothing else does, and because it provides a critical safety-net of protections that civil unions do not.”

Watch Senator Sweeney, Assemblywoman Oliver, and Assemblyman Reed Gusciora speak in support of the bill, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. So they couldn't even get a majority last time, and now they want a super majority in case of a veto?

    Can someone who knows more about New Jersey politics educate the non-Jersians about this?

    Posted by: Tyler | Jan 9, 2012 7:04:11 PM

  2. This is great. Even if it's vetoed and the veto not overridden, this is an important step in the process to get all the Dems on board and on the record, and to make blowhard Christie put his money where his mouth is, too. Best-case scenario: It passed, he signs, we win and his future right-wing political ambitions are bye-bye. So worth trying.

    Posted by: Matthew Rettenmund | Jan 9, 2012 7:05:24 PM

  3. Oh, there's absolutely no way Christie signs this given his ambitions in the future.

    Posted by: Tyler | Jan 9, 2012 7:15:32 PM

  4. This is mostly an attempt to corner Christie because he already told everyone he would veto the bill. They don't have the votes to pass and the issue is back in the courts.

    Posted by: anon | Jan 9, 2012 7:37:45 PM

  5. Part of me has all sorts of nasty things to say about the pathetic preening and posturing of a cynical group of sadsack politicians but let's just stick with "better late than never". Get the Dems on the record as voting for marriage equality, get Jennifer Beck and another Republican or two on the record, and wait for Christie to lose reelection or take a cabinet position if Obama loses.

    Whatever Sweeney may have done in the past to torpedo marriage equality when it had a real change of passing in 2009-10, it's probably best to say thanks and move on.

    Posted by: jersey | Jan 9, 2012 7:56:28 PM

  6. Please correct me if my recollection is inaccurate, but, two or three decades ago when basic anti-discrimination bills were being sought, the first statewide ordinance to be signed into law was in Wisconsin, and was signed by a Republican Governor. I'll try to retrieve that Governor's name. Gov Christie: this is your chance to display the "rugged individualisim" that Republicans prize. Lead. Don't follow. (George D: if we get this bill, will you marry me?)

    Posted by: Robert Baker | Jan 9, 2012 8:08:41 PM

  7. Christie won't sign it or let it become law without his signature. Look at the crap Romney is getting for not unconstitutionally resisting the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. And of course they won't go from 14 votes in the Senate to the 27 necessary for a veto override.

    I'm inclined to agree with Jersey that we should be charitable, but it's enraging that New Jersey Democrats killed this bill when they had votes to spare and now have converted just in time to push a symbolic bill in the face of a certain veto (side note: perhaps it's unfair to lump the Assembly Democrats in with the Senate Democrats who are the true losers). I guess I'll just chalk it up to just one more reason why New York > New Jersey.

    Posted by: A Different Tyler | Jan 9, 2012 9:26:44 PM

  8. I assume New Jersey's Constitution allows for a successful bill to pass into law without the Chief Executive's signature if it's not vetoed, as is the case with other states and at the Federal level. So perhaps Gov. Christie won't sign it, giving him a tiny fig leaf with his party of hate, but also declines to veto it because it's "good for business", which is another GOP fig leaf. Getting two fig leaves is preferable to going against the wishes of the majority of his constituents.

    Posted by: Anastasia Beaverhausen | Jan 9, 2012 9:37:55 PM

  9. Christie will certainly veto it. He wants to either be a vice-presidential nominee this year, be in Romney's cabinet next year, or run for president in 2016. He can't be those things if he does not veto this. He has already said he does not support same-sex marriage.

    Posted by: Javier | Jan 9, 2012 10:21:30 PM

  10. Why didn't this weasel called Sweeney not pass the bill when a gay-friendly governor was in Trenton???

    Please stop the wishful thinking of Christie not vetoing or just allowing it to sit for 45 days, its not gonna happen. The guy is a proud bigot.

    Posted by: NY2.0 | Jan 10, 2012 12:06:50 AM

  11. There is no way Christie is signing this. He has said several times he is against gay marriage. By signing the bill or letting it sit without his signature, he opens himself up to massive criticism from the right and hard core conservatives. Considering he is stumping for Romney right now, I imagine a swift veto to get the bill out of the limelight. I am a hard core Democrat but the NJ democrats really messed this up. (They really did well from a political angle though - whether Christie vetoes the bill or not, the Dems come out smelling like a rose. That's all they really want).

    Posted by: KP | Jan 10, 2012 12:37:34 AM

  12. Dear NJ Democrats,
    In early 2010 you had the chance to get this done with a lame duck Governor waiting in the wings with his pen.
    Now 2 years later we're supposed to give you an "atta boy" and applaud as you've "evolved" and are ready to make marriage equality a top priority...knowing full well that our current governor would sign his veto in urine if he had enough coffee beforehand.
    Stop playing politics with people's lives. Pushing a symbolic bill through during an election year just so you come out looking like champions of equality and Christie goes on record as a bigot is a slap in the face of the community you are purporting to fight for.

    Posted by: Melissa | Jan 10, 2012 9:47:21 AM

  13. If this passes (however unlikely), does NJ have a referendum process ala California (and unlike New York)?

    Posted by: Greenpointguy | Jan 10, 2012 11:31:43 AM

  14. @Melissa: I agree with you 100%, but I would point out that four years ago - even two years ago - Republicans were using gay rights as a wedge issue. Now Democrats are successfully using it as a wedge against the Rs. That's progress.

    Posted by: BABH | Jan 10, 2012 12:07:00 PM

  15. greenpointguy: "does NJ have a referendum process ala California"
    answer: No it doesn't. It has a non-binding referendum process, which some politicians, including Gov Christie, have said they give some weight to.

    anon: "They don't have the votes to pass and the issue is back in the courts."
    answer: The NJ Supreme Court refused last year to take up the issue. The court has an odd system with a 7-yr initial term without tenure. Govs before Christie always automatically renominated justices to a permanent term, but Christie last year broke that tradition. It was the tenured justices who voted to accept the gay marriage case last year, and the untenured ones who voted not to - indicating that they fear Christie's retaliation at renomination time if they buck him on gay marriage.

    Posted by: Allen | Jan 10, 2012 1:11:46 PM

  16. Found it: In 1982, as a Republican and Governor of Wisconsin, Lee Sherman Dreyfus signed into law the first statewide anti-discrimination legislation to include sexual orientation as a protected status. Governor Christie, Are you ready for your "close-up"?

    Posted by: Robert Baker | Jan 10, 2012 3:44:43 PM

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