A gay marriage bill in New Jersey
cleared the Senate on Monday, but failed to attract the needed
support to override a promised veto from Governor Chris Christie.
The measure's 24-to-16 vote, however,
was greater than expected by supporters. Two Republicans joined all
but 2 Democrats in passing the bill.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a
Democrat who recently called his 2010 vote against marriage equality
“wrong,” called on Republican colleagues to vote their conscience
on the measure and disregard Christie's call for a public referendum
on the issue.
“When marriage equality was enacted
in New York and more recently in Washington state, could not have
been done so without the support of courageous Republicans, who
bucked their party bosses because they knew they had to do the right
“Now is your moment. Now is the time
to stand up and say yes,” Sweeney said.
Despite coming in three votes short of
the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto, the measure gained
10 supporters since a January 2010 vote.
In recent weeks, Christie has been
criticized by Democrats for calling on lawmakers to put the question
up for a vote. Gay marriage supporters argued that civil rights
should never be voted on.
The Assembly will vote Thursday on the
measure. Supporters have said they have sufficient support to clear
becomes seventh state to legalize gay marriage.)