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The New Jersey state Senate made history Monday when it passed the marriage equality bill for the first time, but a promised veto from Gov. Chris Christie means that advocates likely will need to wait a while before the bill becomes law.
The Senate passed the bill 24-16 after about an hour of debate early in the afternoon. Two Republican senators, Jennifer Beck and Diane Allen, joined 22 Democrats in voting for the bill. The tally still leaves the Senate three votes short of the 27 needed to reach the veto override threshold.
Two years ago the bill failed in the Senate in a 20-14 vote, but leaders of both chambers have made the legislation their top priority this year. The Assembly will vote on the bill this Thursday, and sponsors in that chamber have expressed confidence it will pass.
Governor Christie has vowed to veto the bill, and wants lawmakers to send the issue to voters for a referendum this November. Although polls show that a majority of voters support same-sex marriage, the Democratic-controlled legislature has vowed not to put a civil right to a public vote. That leaves the legislature with the option of overriding the governor's promised veto, but it appears uncertain whether leaders can garner enough support from Republicans to override the veto with two-thirds majorities in the near future.
Consequently, according to the Star-Ledger, marriage equality advocates plan to celebrate the anticipated victories this week and settle in for the long haul. The current legislative session ends in January 2014.
"Public opinion could shift further in favor of gay marriage, which polls show New Jersey voters support by a growing margin," reports the Star-Ledger. "Or, they say, Christie, already a prospect to join Mitt Romney's ticket if he wins the GOP presidential nomination, could leave New Jersey politics and free GOP lawmakers afraid to cross him."