Several lawmakers in New Jersey say a gay marriage bill will face a tough crowd today as the state Senate takes up the measure.

Today's vote will seal the fate of gay marriage in the Garden State for at least the next four years. Anti-gay marriage Governor-elect Chris Christie's January 19 installation will erect a nearly impervious barrier to passage. Therefore, today's vote is do or die for the measure's backers.

Analysts have suggested a similarity between the New Jersey Senate and last month's vote in nearby New York, where pro-gay marriage senators made eloquent floor speeches only to be outnumbered by subdued opponents who quietly killed the bill.

Senator Gerald Cardinale is one of the few Republicans who has spoken publicly on the issue, telling the Star-Ledger: "I have no way of getting into anybody's head and saying how they're going to go. Maybe they're hoping that the debate will inflame people or that there will be folks who say outrageous things."

Another five Republican lawmakers have signed onto a letter that rejects the gay marriage bill and urges political leaders to fix civil unions.

At least one lawmaker appears ready to cross the aisle and vote in favor of marriage equality. Senator Bill Baroni already voted in favor of the bill when it faced review during a December Senate committee hearing. However, the bill's weak showing before the panel – it won passage with no votes to spare – is the reason why its Senate sponsors decided to test the measure before the more liberal Assembly first. Assembly leaders, however, rejected that plan and punted the bill back to the Senate.

Proponents continue to hold out hope, insisting the bill is not dead. Democrats control the Senate with two votes to spare, but remain divided on the bill. At least 5 Democrats are expected to vote against the bill.

The political landscape for the bill altered dramatically after the loss of Governor Jon Corzine, who publicly backed the bill. Events in neighboring New York and Maine, where voters “vetoed” a gay marriage bill in November, may also have dampened enthusiasm for the bill.