By David Madden and Robin Rieger
TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — A New Jersey state senate committee today approved a measure that would pave the way for gay marriage in the Garden State, even as Governor Christie indicates he will veto the plan as now presented.
Cheers drowned out the groans following an 8-4 Senate Judiciary Committee vote along party lines Tuesday in favor of legislation known as S-1, recognizing same sex marriage in New Jersey.
“Marriage equality has a vast reservoir of popularity in New Jersey. People see there is marriage equality in six other states,” said Steve Goldstein from Garden State Equality.
“We’re going to continue to fight this in the assembly,”said Jim White from the New Jersey Council of the Knights of Columbus.
Christie — opting instead to support a public referendum on the question — made his feelings known during a town hall meeting.
“I think this is an issue that should not rest, solely on my hands, in the hands of the Senate President or the hands of the speaker or the other 118 members of state legislature,” said Governor Christie. “Let’s let the people of New Jersey decide what is best for the state.”
Supporters argue that civil unions enacted years ago leave the door open to discrimination because they can’t describe themselves as being married. Fran Farese was among those now in civil unions who told horror stories of how those unions weren’t recognized in public.
“I’m tired of being patient, I’m tired of pretending that ‘separate but equal’ works, because it doesn’t. Civil unions don’t work,” she told the committee.
But Len Deo of the New Jersey Family Policy Council countered that only 13 complaints have been filed from over 5,400 civil unions, and only one was found to merit state action.
“Marriage is not a creature of statute, invented by the New Jersey legislature or any other government,” he said.
State senate president Steve Sweeney, a proponent of the gay marriage measure, insisted this bill will proceed in spite of the threat of a gubernatorial veto.