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Scheherazade On January - 7 - 2010

New Jersey State HouseNEW JERSEY – The state Senate denied marriage equality to all its citizens. The marriage equality bill failed to pass in a 20-14 decision despite Democrats holding the majority. Senators James Beach (D-Camden), Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) and Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) abstained and 2 other senators did not attend the state Senate session; Senator Diane Allen (R-Burlington) was one of those not attending, but her absence was due to her fight against cancer. The vote came after an hour and a half of public debate.

There was a good deal of uncertainty about the outcome of this bill. New Jersey Senate President Richard Codey (D) made clear that the state Senate did not have the votes to pass this bill, but supporters insisted that the vote take place today because Governor Jon Corzine (D) agreed he would sign the bill into law should it pass the Senate before the end of his term.

“Most assuredly, this is an issue of civil rights and civil liberties, the foundation of our state and federal constitutions,” the governor said. “Denying any group of people a fundamental human right because of who they are, or whom they love, is wrong, plain and simple.”

Corzine was defeated in his bid for reelection by Chris Christie (R). Christie is an opponent of this bill and will assume the office of Governor on January 19th.

The state Supreme Court ruled that lawmakers must extend marital rights to same-sex couples, and Governor Corzine signed a civil union bill into law in 2006. However, this has failed to extend full marriage equality to the LGBT community.

In 2008 a panel evaluated the differences between civil unions and actual marriage as per the dictates of the civil union law. The panel’s findings showed that while civil unions provided some of the benefits that married couples enjoy, it did not fully provide all the benefits and protections that married couples enjoy under New Jersey state law.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a marriage equality bill by a 7-6 vote on the 8th of December. The bill was then delayed due to uncertainty regarding its passing the state Senate. The reasons for that delay became self-evident during today’s voting in the Senate.

Senator Ray Lesniak (D-Union), a strong supporter and sponsor of the bill, was driven to tears as a result of this outcome. Senator Lesniak has said that local religious organizations have actually written him in support of this bill.

Interestingly, the religious institutions that have contacted Lesniak to express their support of the bill are citing religious freedom as a reason for their support. They’ve said that state law has no right to dictate the parameters of marriage and thereby choosing by omission for whom congregations can and cannot hold official wedding ceremonies. “Government is wrong to interfere with religious beliefs,” Senator Lesniak said.

Garden State Equality Chairman Steven Goldstein has made clear that the fight for marriage equality is not over, and that the issue would once again be taken before the courts in New Jersey.

13 Responses so far.

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  1. KQuark says:

    This is very disappointing but not that unexpected. Even though NJ votes Democrat most of the time because of it’s suburban nature it’s not what I would call a very liberal or progressive state.

    These people still kill me because we need more love in the world not less.

  2. Chernynkaya says:

    Scher, good work, well stated and this is an issue that we should not forget! I am confused about the religious freedom slant on this. Are they saying that, since marriage is a religious rite as well as a civil contract, that it is up to various denominations to decide whether or not to perform marriages? In other words, would that make any marriage between two consenting adults legal as long as a recognized church sanctifies them?

    • abby4ever says:

      Hi Chernyn. I was confused about that as well, your thoughts on it, with regard to what is actually being said, were my thoughts too…I mean your questions. I think it’s because marriage touches both sides of the line, civil and religious, that things get difficult.

    • Scheherazade says:

      I’m not certain about all the details regarding the correspondence Senator Lesniak has received, but based upon what he’s said it seems that the religious institutions that have contacted Lesniak feel that marriage is an issue that should be left completely to religion. Therefore, a state dictating who a church cannot officially marry is the same as saying who a church can officially marry rather than according to the tenets of their faith. Thus, it violates the separation of church and state.

      • abby4ever says:

        Well, you’ve done it again, Scher. Another article on this topic, and report on how the issue is faring legislation-wise, that is written with objectivity and not even a hint of resentment toward those who can’t seem to climb out of the Dark Ages.

        Kudos.

  3. Scheherazade says:

    I’ve got emails from a bunch of you. I’m sorry I’ve not responded as yet. :( I’ll be writing you back tonight though. :) Please forgive my absence. I’ve been spending a little time with my sweetie since she’s been home from work the past few days.

    • Khirad says:

      Me is guilty, as well. 😐 I have no good excuse though…

    • abby4ever says:

      I had been wondering if you’d fallen off a cliff somewhere, but as long as you are ok, I am ok. It’s not as if there’s a law stating that people can’t take a break from blogging to spend time with people they love.

      :]

  4. Chernynkaya says:

    OMG-- I am so happy to see you here! I thought something was wrong…Ok, now I can read the post.

  5. PatsyT says:

    Today in California this came form the Courage Campaign……

    Chief Judge Vaughn Walker is holding a hearing on whether a pool television camera should be allowed to film the federal Prop 8 trial, given the unprecedented interest in the proceedings. Judge Walker is encouraging the public to submit comments on the issue by Friday. Join more than 100,000 people who have signed the letter to Judge Walker from the Courage Campaign Institute and CREDO Action and we

    • Hopeington says:

      Hey Patsy, I just logged on to post the same email I just received. I’d like to see that televised!

      From a San Jose Mercury News article:

      “Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker approved court-operated cameras in his courtroom for delayed release on YouTube, but rejected a bid by media organizations to televise the proceedings themselves for live broadcast.”

      This decision is NOT final: Judge Walker is leaving the public comment period open until Friday, pending a ruling on his decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.


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