By Anna Jaffray
New Jersey’s same-sex marriage legislation has passed the Assembly with a 42-33 vote. Now, it will go to Governor Chris Christie who has promised to veto the legislation.
The act recognizes the unequal treatment and potential stigmatization of civil unions in employment, schools and hospitals. “Marriage” is now to be defined as “…the legally recognized union of two consenting persons in a committed relationship.”
“I hope no one here wants to turn back the clock in our rich history in safeguarding – against popular will – the rights of minorities,” said Democratic Assemblyman Reed Gusciora during a House session last week, where the bill passed 24-16.
The bill includes religious exemptions which allow any religious organization or ceremonial process associated with marriage to decide whether it will participate or not, under Article 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, freedom of religion.
Governor Christie may avoid the issue of gay marriage by leaving it up to the voters for referendum in November. Christie is up for re-election in 2013.
Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s largest civil rights organization, now begins its campaign towards a veto override. The organization’s website reads, “We are exuberant advocates but also methodical strategists. To win an override, we will take the time we need, assisted by a changing world.”
“Today’s milestone came in the face of some of the toughest obstacles in the history of the marriage equality movement…but we had the people and the passion.” says CEO and Chair, Steven Goldstein.