New Jersey lawmakers have set aside a
gay marriage bill that was scheduled for a vote Monday.
State Senator Raymond Lesniak, a
Democrat, introduced the bill last week with Senator Loretta
Weinberg, also a Democrat, and the Senate Judiciary Committee was
scheduled to consider it on Monday.
Weinberg removed the bill from
Star-Ledger first reported.
New Jersey became the 14th
state to allow gay couples to marry following a September 27 Superior
Court decision ordering the state to begin issuing marriage licenses
to gay couples as of October 21.
Republican Governor Chris Christie
appealed the ruling to the New Jersey Supreme Court but withdrew from
the fight after the court sided with the lower court order in
refusing to delay implementation of its order.
Lesniak said a law was needed to
protect the ruling from future litigation.
Weinberg said that the bill also ties
up loose ends, such as recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages,
eliminating civil unions, and providing for a transition from civil
union to marriage.
Marriage equality advocates balked at
the bill's religious exemptions, saying that religious institutions
are already protected by the First Amendment.
“There's a difference of opinion
within our legal team … over whether the religious exemption that
was in the bill that we have sponsored weakens the current law with
regard to religious exemptions for same-sex marriage,” Lesniak is
quoted as saying by NorthJersey.com.
Lesniak said that he will work with
legal groups to resolve the dispute and hopes to reintroduce the
measure next year.