The New Jersey Senate will vote on a contentious gay marriage bill Thursday.

“We're gonna post the bill and see what happens,” Senate President Dick Codey told

Senate passage is considered the largest hurdle the bill faces, making Thursday's vote its most important. Democrats rule the chamber with two votes to spare but remain divided on the bill. If Democrats can cobble together 21 votes to approve the measure, then it would go to the Assembly, where the bill enjoys greater support.

Supporters of the bill, who rallied on the steps of the Statehouse on Monday, have urged legislators to approve the bill before Governor-elect Chris Christie, a Republican opposed to gay marriage, assumes office on January 19. Many senators say the loss of the governor's mansion to an anti-gay marriage Republican is signal enough to oppose the bill.

Steve Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, the state's largest gay rights advocate, was pleased to hear about the vote.

“Senator Codey is a great supporter of equality and at least he kept his commitment to our community,” Goldstein said.

A similar gay marriage bill was defeated in the New York Senate in December.