With a narrow 7 to 6 vote and after more than 7 hours of testimony, a gay marriage bill cleared a key New Jersey Senate committee and was sent to the Senate floor for a full vote.

Hundreds showed up Monday to testify for or against Senator Loretta Weinberg's marriage equality bill.

In her opening remarks, Weinberg teared up as she told the committee that her relationship with her late husband Irwin Weinberg inspired her to sponsor the bill.

“Losing him was the hardest adversity I've ever faced,” she said. “But what we're voting on today is the right of every citizen to have what Irwin and I had: the right to live with the person you love in full peace and security.”

Proponents of the bill testified on the failings of the civil unions law approved in 2006, putting opponents on the defensive, who urged lawmakers to fix the civil unions law instead of moving forward with gay marriage.

Damon Owens, a representative for the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the nation's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage, testified that granting gay couples the right to marry was a decision that should not be made based on “emotions, personal views or even religion.” Owens argued that sexual union, not procreation, was the definition of marriage.

“Equating same-sex unions to marriage means accepting … that sodomy is equal to sexual union. Sodomy is not sexual union. … It's self evident that the union of two complimentary reproductive systems is not the same as the joining of a reproductive system to another's digestive system,” he said.

When asked if he supported New Jersey's civil union law, Owens answered he would, if it allowed any two people to enter into the union. “The moral problem we have with civil unions legislation is that it is in fact attempting to setup a parallel structure for marriage,” he said.

Despite a list of over 100 people waiting to testify, public debate ended shortly after 9PM.

In voting against the bill, Senator Gerald Cardinale, a Republican from Bergen, said the bill would have “unintended consequences,” including encouraging more people to choose to be gay.

Senator Nia Gill, a Democrat from Passaic, said: “I vote for equality in marriage because I believe in the constitution.”

The bill is expected to reach the Senate floor as early as Thursday.