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 afraid of.”

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 he received.

“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 measure.

Assistant Majority Leader John Girgenti, a Democrat, called the bill a “violation” of his conscience.

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 on referendum.”

“With great pride and humility, I call the question,” she added, then lawmakers voted.