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New Jersey Assembly passes marriage equality bill

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

Updated at 6:15 to reflect accurate vote count–apparently one assembly member’s button was broken during the vote.

In a late afternoon vote, the New Jersey General Assembly passed marriage equality on a vote of 42-33.  The measure passed the Senate earlier this week by a 24-16 margin.  The bill now goes to the desk of Gov. Chris Christie, who has promised to veto it.

The Washington Post reports on supporters’ next move should Christie keep true to his veto threat:

The bill would need several Republican votes in each house to override the governor; Christie himself essentially guaranteed that that won’t happen.

With that in mind, Democrats who identified same-sex marriage as their No. 1 priority for the two-year legislative session that began in January have adopted a longer view. They say there’s no rush for an override vote, especially because the Legislature has been unsuccessful in every prior attempt to override Christie, most notably to reinstate a surcharge on millionaires.

Instead, they plan to bide their time in hopes that support for gay marriage — currently 52-42 percent in New Jersey, according to one recent voter poll — will continue to grow.

“Civil rights is incremental, civil rights is long range, and you take one achievement at a time,” said Steven Goldstein, head of the state’s largest gay rights group, Garden State Equality.

In case same-sex couples can’t win gay marriage through legislation, they have engaged in a parallel fight in the courts. Seven gay couples and several of their children have sued, claiming that the state’s civil union law doesn’t work as intended.


  • 1. Sagesse  |  February 16, 2012 at 2:09 pm


  • 2. Nyx  |  February 16, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Actual vote was 42-33 – one Assemblyman's button stuck. Can someone confirm?

  • 3. bythesea  |  February 16, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    That is what Equality New Jersey tweeted, but don't know if that constitutes confirmation.

  • 4. Steve  |  February 16, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Still far short of overriding the veto

  • 5. Drpatrick1  |  February 16, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    8votes shy in house, 3shy in senate. I would argue that isn't too tall a mountain to climb. I have my doubts for this session, but it could happen. I find it impossible to belive the votes will ever reverse, it is only a matter of time…

  • 6. bythesea  |  February 16, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    With that much time they can get the votes, though it would be nice if the jerk would just do nothing and let it become law without his signature.

  • 7. Bob  |  February 16, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    all eyes on Christie!!!!!!!!

  • 8. Glen  |  February 16, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    How can they not be?


  • 9. Sagesse  |  February 16, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Those are substantial majorities in the House and Senate. How will Christie rationalize a veto? He's the governor, not the emperor.

  • 10. Gregory in SLC  |  February 16, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    INDEED!!!!!!!! I get so very weary of the ridiculous/unfounded bigotry based in "I don't like it". Why in the HELL do they care how we run our lives?! Christie: if you don't want to marry a man…well don't!

  • 11. bythesea  |  February 16, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    He doesn't care about same sex marriage. This is all posturing to preserve his viability in the GOP for 2016 (or possibly as someone's running-mate this year if that comes up). That makes it even scummier for him to veto than if he was really opposed to it personally.

  • 12. Jamie  |  February 16, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Something this important should be "settled" by the people according to Christie, except for when it's "settled" by one person's veto.

  • 13. Gregory in SLC  |  February 16, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    LOL! The conservative nonsense and inconsistencies are endless!

  • 14. John_B_in_DC  |  February 16, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    My thoughts exactly. What impresses me is that this vote wasn't even CLOSE. It passed by strong majorities in both houses–that right there will make Christie's veto look bad, and it may come back to bite him. And Christie has already acknowledged that a majority of New Jersey residents support it–so really, he's just thumbing his nose at the state legislature, and the state residents who elected them as their representatives.

    Regarding Christie's suggestion of a popular vote, first, I don't think a civil rights issue should be put to a popular vote in the first place; but second, looking to California as an example, 7 million voters took the right to marry away from same-sex couples in the state. Opponents of same-sex marriage portray this as some kind of overwhelming mandate but winning with 52% of the votes cast, Prop. 8 just barely squeaked by. More significantly, those 7 millions voters represent only 40% of the registered voters and only 20% (!!!!) of all state residents.

  • 15. Sam  |  February 16, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Simultaneous to working for an override, we should be working just to oust Christie–governor's race is in 2013. Cory Booker, anyone?

  • 16. Drpatrick1  |  February 16, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    No doubt! Cory Booker all they way, it is a guarantee!

  • 17. AnonyGrl  |  February 16, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Go NJ!

  • 18. Gregory in SLC  |  February 16, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    Exciting how things have turned around in NJ! : D!

  • 19. spreadingchristie  |  February 16, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Time to redefine Christie:

  • 20. Steve  |  February 16, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    I don't know. Something to do with his morbid obesity would have been more appropriate. Unlike Santorum, he isn't actually obsessed with gays and gay sex

  • 21. Stefan  |  February 16, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    All but 4 Democrats voted for it while not one Republican voted for it. Remember that this November people…

  • 22. Stuart  |  February 16, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    What are the numbers required to override? 2/3 of both chambers?

    If my math is right, 75 people voted in the House and 40 in the Senate, which would mean 50 and 27 respectively for the override.

    That's only 3 more in the Senate and 8 more in the House. That seems pretty doable?

  • 23. bythesea  |  February 16, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Given that they have until January 2014 to get the votes to override they probably will come up with them at some point. Of course it would be easier if Christie didn't veto and just let it become law without him.

  • 24. Jacob Combs  |  February 16, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    According to my Wikipedia research (which may or may not be reliable), there are 80 members of the Assembly and 40 members of the Senate. So by my math, that means we need 54 assembly members and 27 senators. So we have 10 votes to make up in the Assembly and 3 in the Senate. It certainly seems possible in two years, but it's going to take a lot of work. Someone should probably check my math 🙂

  • 25. Jacob  |  February 16, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    For what it's worth, the WSJ reported the same number for an Assembly override.

  • 26. Jacob Combs  |  February 16, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    That should be 12 Assembly votes and 3 in the Senate. There's the math problem.

  • 27. bythesea  |  February 16, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Apparently one of the absent voters would have been a yes vote, from what has been reported. That would bring it down to 11 more needed for override if true.

  • 28. Stuart  |  February 16, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    The entry for "Absolute Veto" at this link looks reasonably authoritative…

    It also clarifies that it is 2/3 of the *members* of the body, not two thirds of those voting. Which means absences or abstensions effectively count as NO votes. A full 54 and 27 are needed.

    I wonder who the 5 assembly members were who didn't vote and why…

  • 29. Bryce from DC and KS  |  February 16, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    What is going on in MD? It is impossible to find information!

  • 30. Jacob Combs  |  February 16, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Here's a good article on the MD situation today.

  • 31. John  |  February 17, 2012 at 7:17 am

    As much as I want this to happen this was a waste of time.

  • 32. AnonyGrl  |  February 17, 2012 at 7:44 am

    Never a waste of time. Sometimes the way to knock down a wall is to hit it over and over and over and over. Yes, it is not fun, but small cracks happen each time you hit that wall, and that is what we are doing. Even if we don't break the wall down this time, it is worth celebrating the fact that the walls are weakening.

  • 33. John_B_in_DC  |  February 18, 2012 at 6:59 am

    I agree this was NOT a waste of time. At least this way NJ residents know exactly who their supporters are, can (hopefully) identify a few legislators who may have voted against us but might be persuadable, and can hold the other opponents accountable.

  • 34. John  |  February 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    This shouldn't come as a surprise. AGAIN as much as I want marriage equality this was a waste of time. The issue for this legislative year is done as for marriage equality.

  • 35. John_B_in_DC  |  February 18, 2012 at 6:56 am

    Meanwhile over at NOM, Brian Brown is claiming the NJ bill passed by the "narrowest of margins" (riiiiiight, 42 to 33 is a "narrow" margin–as somebody else pointed out, winning by just 1 vote would be the "narrowest of margins") and is touting a bunch of "marriage victories" that are really just NOM counting a whole bunch of chickens whose eggs have not only not yet hatched but haven't even been laid yet. It's time for us to compile a NOM-to-English dictionary, the way they've been redefining words right and left. For example when they say they want to "restore" marriage what they really mean is snatch marriage away from people who are already married, or wish to be.

    But why aren't we hearing more from the NOM chairman, John Eastman? Maybe because his talking points tend to go off-script? I would recommend this post by Jeremy Hooper, which looks at some very interesting things Eastman had to say about our state-by-state marriage laws:

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