After a holiday break, it's back to work
for the New Jersey Legislature and back to lobbying for supporters of
a gay marriage bill that has stalled in Trenton.
The bill was punted back to the Senate
on New Year's Eve when Assembly Speaker Joe Roberts, a Democrat from
Camden, said he had heard enough on the bill and was prepared to put
the bill up for a vote without a committee hearing but added that the
Assembly would not take the lead in voting for the measure.
Democratic Senate sponsors Loretta
Weinberg and Raymond Lesniak have asked Senate President Richard
Codey, a Democrat from Essex, to hold a floor vote on the bill
Thursday. A Senate Judiciary Committee narrowly approved the measure
Supporters of the bill said they would
hold a rally at the Statehouse Monday and urge legislators to approve
the bill before Governor-elect Chris Christie, a Republican opposed
to gay marriage, takes office on January 19.
A group of New Jersey clergy also
signed on to a letter addressed to Senate President Codey and
Assembly Speaker Roberts urging passage.
“We are 120 clergy members across New
Jersey from 19 faiths and denominations,” the letter reads. “We
are but a sample of New Jersey clergy who support marriage equality
and wish to marry same-sex couples legally.”
“We urgently ask you to put the
marriage equality bill to a vote in your respective houses –
without precondition – before the end of the current legislative
session. The State must get out of our sanctuaries and uphold our
religious freedom as clergy to marry whom we wish, or don't wish,
under State law.”
The Democrat-controlled Senate remains
the major obstacle to passage. Democrats rule the chamber with two
votes to spare but remain divided on the bill.
Many senators say the loss of the
governor's mansion to an anti-gay marriage Republican is signal
enough to vote against the bill.