NJ Assembly clears marriage; veto pending; Maryland poised

Everyone knows Republican Governor Chris Christie has vowed to veto to the marriage equality bill in New Jersey, but the state Assembly passed it anyway on Thursday, and by a vote of 42 to 33. That’s not enough to overturn Christie’s veto, but the legislative victory—coming just three days after Washington Governor Chris Gregoire signed a marriage equality bill there—pumps an impressive momentum. And Maryland may vote today (February 17).

The New Jersey Senate passed the bill on Monday, 24 to 16, despite Governor Christie’s very public goading that the legislature, instead, put the issue on the ballot and let voters decide in November. Christie’s offer is not so much a gesture of respect for direct democracy as it is a tactic to improve the Republican presidential candidate’s chances in November. Anti-gay ballot measures are notorious for attracting conservative voters to the polling booths, even when the Republican nominee is not a highly popular one.

But time may not be on Christie’s side. According to the New York Times, Democratic supporters of the marriage equality bill in the legislature have two years to muster 27 votes in the Senate and 54 in the Assembly to override a veto. That’s three more in the Senate and 12 more in the Assembly. Helping to stoke support for those additional votes are polls in New Jersey showing 54 percent of voters say same-sex couples should be able to marry. That compares to 35 percent who oppose allowing gay couples to marry, four percent want only civil unions, and seven person who have no position. (The latest poll, conducted by Rutgers, surveyed 914 adults in New Jersey February 9-11 by cell and landline phones; margin of error is plus or minus three points.) Bottom line: An eight-point jump in support of same-sex marriage over two years time.

Massachusetts became the first state to offer marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2004, after a state supreme court ruling. It was four years before another state followed –Connecticut in 2008 in response to a court ruling. But 2009 turned out to be a watershed year: The Connecticut legislature passed its own law allowing for same-sex marriages, followed by New Hampshire, Vermont, and the District of Columbia. The Iowa Supreme Court added a fifth state, through a unanimous ruling. It was another three years before New York would join the trend, with the legislature passing a marriage equality bill in 2011.

Washington’s state legislature has passed its bill and signed it, but it’s now waiting for 90 days to tick by with the expectation that opponents will turn in enough signatures to force the new law into a referendum before it can go into effect.

Maryland is poised for action. The Baltimore Sun said a marriage equality bill there may get a vote Friday (February 17) “but the bill’s fate is uncertain,” particularly in the House. (The Senate passed the bill last year.) The Sun reported that at least one critical vote in the House of Delegates, a Republican, was receiving phone calls from former Vice President Dick Cheney and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to urge his support.

One Response to NJ Assembly clears marriage; veto pending; Maryland poised

  1. Neal says:

    The State Constitution mimicking the U.S. Constitution “Congress is made up of two bodies; The House of Representatives & The Senate. Each body is elected by the people as THEIR representatives.

    The Republicans, “THE CONSTITUTION PARTY” are fine when votes go THEIR way. OUR democracy was established to break from England and “Taxation without Representation”.

    Christie is a bully and one of the biggest windbags of them all.

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