The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today advanced a bill that would codify same-sex marriage into the state statutes on an 11-1 vote, with State Sen. Steven Oroho (R-Franklin) opposed; a week ago, the Assembly Judiciary Committee unanimously approved an identical measure.
If both bills successfully pass their respective houses during the lame duck session – which seems likely, given their near-universal support – same-sex marraige would be formally guaranteed under state law, rather than protected by judicial order as it is now.
Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Teaneck) said in a statement that while marriage equality may be the law of the land under Obergefell v. Hodges, the conservative bent of the current Supreme Court makes protecting gay marriage on a state level critical.
“Devoted same-sex couples all across New Jersey are raising families as contributing members of their communities,” Weinberg said. “We fought to correct the injustice that denied these rights for too many loving couples for far too long. We don’t want to see those rights lost to an arch-conservative agenda of recent Supreme Court appointees.”
The bill was sponsored by Weinberg, Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford), and State Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch); Sweeney’s support for the bill is particularly notable considering that in 2009, the then-Majority Leader abstained in a vote on same-sex marriage legalization.
“This is about acting to ensure equal treatment and civil rights for all New Jerseyans, including same-sex couples,” Sweeney said today. “Marriage equality respects the rights of loving couples who deserve to be treated equally.”
This story was updated at 9:31 a.m. on December 17 to correct an error; Senate President Steve Sweeney abstained in a 2009 vote on gay marriage, but did not vote against the measure.