In a vote held Thursday afternoon, the New Jersey senate failed to gather enough votes to advance a same-sex marriage bill, effectively killing chances for gay nuptials in the state for the next few years. The measure failed 14 to 20.
The state's legislature was under the gun to hold a vote on the matter. Governor-elect Chris Christie, who has vowed to veto any gay marriage legislation, takes office on January 19, while sitting governor John Corzine had promised to do the opposite.
Now, for another marriage equality bill to advance legislatively, New Jersey's senate and assembly need enough votes to override Christie's veto, which seems highly unlikely. But officials with Garden State Equality, the state's gay rights organization, said they with Lambda Legal will likely return to court in an effort to bring marriage equality to New Jersey.
The group issued the following statement: "We are not waiting out the term of any new Administration to bring equality to same-sex couples in our state. With today’s vote in the state senate, the New Jersey legislature defaulted on its constitutional obligation to provide same-sex couples in New Jersey equal protection, as unanimously mandated by the New Jersey Supreme Court in 2006. That’s why we at Garden State Equality are here with our partner Lambda Legal, which has an extraordinary track record of advancing LGBT civil rights in the courts. Now our organizations will announce major news. Our side is going back to court to win marriage equality. We’ll hear from Lambda Legal in a moment. Let’s be clear about what this news means. We are not waiting out the term of any new Administration to bring equality to same-sex couples in our state. In 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court told the legislature it could enact marriage or another structure that provides the equal protection of marriage. But the civil union law failed to do that."
The group's statement also included a quote from civil rights leader Cesar Chavez: "You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the people who feel pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours."
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force struck an optimistic note in their statement on the marriage vote: "The tide is turning nationwide in favor of marriage equality, and we are confident that New Jersey will join the growing number of states
that already extend marriage equality to same-sex couples. In New Jersey, and all across the nation, same-sex couples and their families are sharing their stories and their lives with others in a conversation that is transforming our country. That doesn't end today. If anything, it inspires and compels us to press forward."
The Human Rights Campaign, which worked closely with Garden State Equality on the marriage vote, had this to say in a statement: “Today’s vote by the New Jersey Senate perpetuates a system of inequality in the Garden State. Failing to provide loving, committed couples access to marriage leaves them separate and unequal – civil unions are not the same as marriage.”