February 22, 2013
Democratic leaders in the New Jersey Assembly and Senate announced yesterday that they plan to hold a vote before the end of the legislative session to override Gov. Chris Christie’s 2012 veto of a marriage equality bill, the blog PolitickerNJ reported.
Openly gay Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, who successfully chaperoned the bill through the Assembly last year, told PolitickerNJ that he has met with Senate President Steven Sweeney and Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, both of whom promised him they planned to pursue an override this year.
Gusciora’s marriage equality bill passed the General Assembly in February 2012 on a vote of 42-33, a few days after the Senate passed it 24-16. Christie followed through on his promise of a veto the very next day, even though he had the option to allow the law to go into effect without signing it.
Democrats and LGBT advocates will need a 2/3 vote in both houses to override Christie’s veto. In the Senate, they will need to pick up three more votes, while in the Assembly they will need 12. When the Assembly voted to approve the bill last year, advocates said they would have had two more votes in favor if two Republican members had not been on vacation, so the true target number in the Assembly could be closer to 10. The process has to be completed by the end of the legislative session in 2014.
Gusciora told PolitickerNJ that he is confident about his chances in Senate, but less so about the House. “I think we can get the three in the Senate,” he said. “But the Assembly is a different story. I can name five who might switch their vote, but it stops there.”
In addition, Gusciora told the blog that he is still considering pushing for a ballot initiative to legalize marriage equality in New Jersey. Steven Goldstein, the executive director of Garden State Equality when the bill was considered in the legislature last year, was firmly opposes to a ballot measure, as are Democratic leaders in both chambers. But Goldstein is now working at Rutgers, and Gusciora sees the new leadership at the LGBT organization as “more amenable to putting it on the ballot.”
If a veto override does happen, Gusciora expressed a desire to wait until after the June primary election to provide cover for Republican legislators who might fear voting in favor of marriage equality only to be campaigned against by social conservatives or Gov. Christie himself.