A much-anticipated gay marriage vote in
the New Jersey Senate scheduled for Thursday has been postponed.
The bill is being rerouted to the
Assembly, instead, its sponsors said late Wednesday.
The sponsors, Senators Raymond J.
Lesniak and Loretta Weinberg, both Democrats, said they wanted the
bill to receive a hearing in the General Assembly before the full
Debate on the bill came as an
unexpected surprise to gay marriage advocates, who have been
pressuring lawmakers to approve the bill before Governor-elect Chris
Christie, a Republican opposed to gay marriage, takes office in
mid-January. Governor Jon Corzine has publicly backed the bill.
But the bill barely managed to limp out
of a Monday Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, which included more
than 7 hours of testimony from opponents and proponents of gay
marriage, by one vote.
Opponents of gay marriage, who were
likely smelling victory on Wednesday – with Corzine's ouster and a
Senate defeat, the bill was certain to be contained for at least the
next four years – called the last-minute detour a “game.”
“They're using the Legislature as a
propaganda tool,” John Tomicki, president of the New Jersey
Coalition to Preserve and Protect Marriage, told the New York
Times. “They didn't have the courage to bring the issue up
before the election, and now they're playing games to do things that
the public doesn't approve of at the very last minute.”
Weinberg, disagreed, saying it was “the
fairest way to proceed,” referring to the intense interest
generated at Monday's hearing. Additional testimony could be heard
during an Assembly hearing before either chamber decides on the
Assembly leaders have said they are
uncertain when a hearing would be scheduled.