New Jersey senators have voted against
giving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. Senators voted 14
to 20 against the gay marriage bill. A scheduled Monday vote in the
more liberal Assembly will likely not take place.
The defeat is the latest in a string of
recent defeats that has kept gay and lesbian couples from marrying in
three states: California, Maine and New York.
The vote in the Senate came after
senators debated the bill for over 2 hours.
Senator Loretta Weinberg, a Senate
sponsor of the bill, sounded prepared for the inevitable when she
told gay couples: “Your day will come.”
Senate President Richard Codey ended
his remarks by saying: “The time is now and there is nothing to be
Democratic Senator Nia Gill, who is
African-American, called the right to marry a civil right.
But it was Senator Richard Lesniak, a
Democrat, who became emotional on the floor when he shared an email
“So there's this man I know,”
Lesniak read. “He is 43 years old. He's always faced challenges
in his life, born into poverty, always suffered some illness such as
asthma, allergies and skin conditions. He's the eldest of four
children. So, no matter what, he has had to be a role model without
anyone asking him. He has stepped into the role of father, brother,
teacher, mentor and friend for his three younger siblings. He went
on to college and then business school without anyone's academic or
financial help. To my eyes, he is perfect. He's one of the most
loving and generous men I have ever met. He's a great man. He's my
brother. A man that I love immensely from the bottom of my heart.
Thank you for fighting for his rights.”
Opponents of the measure also spoke up.
Republican Senator Gerald Cardinale said lawmakers should respect
the wishes of the people, referring to the recent loss of Governor
Jon Corzine to Chris Christie, a gay marriage opponent.
Senator Michael Doherty, a Republican
from Hunterdon, drew a thunderous applause when he said he opposed
the bill because he supported the right of the people to vote on the
Assistant Majority Leader John
Girgenti, a Democrat, called the bill a “violation” of his
The debate drew to a close with the
person who went first, Senator Weinberg. “We have heard why civil
unions do not work and why they are unequal and how they can't be
fixed. We heard about civil rights and why we don't put civil rights
“With great pride and humility, I
call the question,” she added, then lawmakers voted.