Daniel Villarreal

New Jersey Legislature Passes Marriage Equality, LGBT Orgs React

Filed By Daniel Villarreal | February 16, 2012 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: marriage equality, New Jersey

The New Jersey Assembly just passed the state marriage equality bill with a vote of 42 to 33. This comes after the state Senate passed the bill on Monday by a vote of 24 to 16.

Though Republican Governor Chris Christie has promised to veto the bill, pro-marriage advocates have until the end of this legislative session, January 2014, to wrangle the 12 additional Assembly votes and 3 additional Senate votes needed to override his veto.

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Responding to the Assembly vote, Garden State Equality Chair and CEO Steven Goldstein said:

Today's milestone came in the face of some of the toughest obstacles in the history of the marriage equality movement.  Instead of a Governor twisting arms on our behalf, we have a Governor who twisted arms against us right up until the final votes in each chamber...  And Garden State Equality's budget was one-tenth of what it was two years ago.

To win an override, we will take the time we need, assisted by a changing world.  Look how the world changed since the last vote two years ago.

Evan Wolfson founder and President of Freedom to Marry mentioned that his organization contributed more than $200,000 to help elevate the voices of New Jersey families, purchase radio and online advertisements, lobby and support their partners at Garden State Equality.

Wolfson remarked:

In 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously held that the constitution's command of equality meant that the protections and responsibilities of marriage could no longer be denied to gay couples.  After experimenting with a separate civil union mechanism, today the Legislature took note that marriage matters, and equal means equal, and voted in favor of the freedom to marry.

Citing a new poll by the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Princeton, the Human Rights Campaign noted that 54 percent of New Jersey voters support marriage equality, compared to 44 percent nearly two years ago.

HRC Executive Director Joe Solmonese added:

"Today's legislative win for marriage equality comes at a historic moment: in the past two weeks, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled California's discriminatory Proposition 8 to be unconstitutional; Governor Christine Gregoire signed marriage equality into law in Washington State; and momentum continued in Maryland with the House expected to vote soon on marriage equality legislation."

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force also marked today's victory by recounting the state's recent gains for LGBT citizens. The NGLTF played a key role in passing two bills in 2006 on transgender nondiscrimination and civil unions and a 2008 measure strengthening the state's anti-bullying and hate crimes laws.

NGLTF Executive Director Rea Carey marked the New Jersey victory thus:

"This victory is a victory for New Jersey families. It affirms what millions of people across the country already know - loving, committed same-sex couples and their families should be able to join in the celebration and responsibilities of marriage. This marks an important step in the Garden State's march toward marriage equality. It has been a long journey of changing hearts and minds, of breaking down walls, and of shining a spotlight on our common humanity. Gov. Chris Christie should take a stand for families by signing this bill."

Congratulations to New Jersey and the committed activists who helped secure today's victory!


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