A key New Jersey Senator has said a gay
marriage bill will likely not survive out of committee, a move that
would postpone gay marriage in the state for at least four years.
Gay marriage backers have called on
lawmakers to approve the bill before Governor Jon Corzine leaves
office in mid-January.
Corzine lost his bid for a second term
as leader of the Garden State to Republican Chris Christie on
November 3. During the campaign, Corzine promised the gay community
if reelected he would push through – and sign – a gay marriage
bill in the Legislature.
The day after the election, gay rights
activists mobilized to get the bill approved before Christie, a gay
marriage opponent who supports a gay marriage ban, takes office.
But on Friday, Senator Paul Sarlo, who
chairs the Judiciary Committee overseeing the bill, poured water on
the plan, saying he would not bring up the bill unless enough
committee members favored the bill to pass it on to the Senate floor,
the AP reported.
“Today, as I stand here, we do not
have the votes in the Judiciary Committee,” Sarlo, a Democrat from
Wood-Ridge, told reporters.
“Until somebody can demonstrate that
we have the votes in the Judiciary Committee, it will not be posted.
I'm not going to put people in harm's way where they have to vote
'yes' or 'no' when we don't have the votes to get it out [of the
committee],” he added.
A gay marriage bill in nearby New York
appears more likely to get a vote in the Senate, where the bill faces
its final obstacle to becoming law. But a divided Democratic caucus
and virtually zero Republican support for gay nuptials threaten
Similarly, in New Jersey, the lack of
support in the Senate appears to have stalled the bill.
New Jersey currently recognizes gay
couples with civil unions, a parallel legal framework to marriage
that gay activists have called “not equal.”
A gay marriage defeat now would set
aside the issue until 2014, at the earliest.