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Today the New Jersey Assembly passed A. 1, the freedom to marry bill that could make New Jersey the eighth state in the nation to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. On Monday, the state Senate approved the legislation by a bipartisan vote of a 24-16.
Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry, released the following statement:
“Today’s win in New Jersey is a joyous advance for committed gay and lesbian couples in the Garden State, for their families, and for the entire community. 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.
“Sadly, Governor Chris Christie has planted his feet on the wrong side of history, and the wrong side of the majority for marriage in New Jersey and nationwide. If the governor sticks with his threat of a veto, Freedom to Marry will work throughout the entire remainder of the legislative session, supporting local families, leaders, and advocates as they make the case and win the extra handful of votes needed to override the veto and do right by these families.
“We would not be here without the powerful leadership of Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg; and our partners and colleagues at Garden State Equality, led by Steven Goldstein, who have all worked tirelessly to end marriage discrimination in New Jersey.”
Freedom to Marry contributed more than $200,000 to the effort to secure passage of the marriage legislation. These funds paid for elevating the voices of New Jersey families, radio and online advertisements, lobbying, and program support for our partners at Garden State Equality.
The bill now goes to Governor Christie for his signature. Assuming he vetoes the legislation, advocates and legislative leaders will have until January 2014 to make the case to override the veto, as was done in Vermont in 2009. A Rutgers-Eagleton poll released on Tuesday shows that 54% of New Jersey voters support the freedom to marry, and the momentum reflected in today’s vote is clear, given that just two years ago, on January 7, 2010, the State Senate rejected a marriage bill by a 20-14 vote with three abstentions.