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A measure that would grant gay and lesbian couples civil unions in New Jersey but would stop short of providing marriage equality was passed by a state senate committee on Monday, drawing criticism from gay rights groups who described the bill as discriminatory. The bill now goes to the full senate for a vote.
The bill is in response to a state supreme court ruling calling on the legislature to provide equality to the state's same-sex couples. David Buckel, an attorney for Lambda Legal, which brought the original lawsuit against the state, said in a statement on Monday that the bill was moving too quickly through the legislature for justice to prevail. Buckel said a recent Quinnipiac University poll shows more New Jersey residents favor marriage equality than in early polling, closing in on 50%.
"Each day that goes by, more people favor equality and justice," he said. "The legislature is not taking the time it needs to consider this issue--it is rushing to the wrong side of history. The judiciary committee today did not even listen to any testimony from couples whose lives will be directly affected by the outcome of the vote." (The Advocate)