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
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
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.