Gay marriage advocates and opponents in New Jersey are looking forward to Thursday, where the matter is expected to be taken up by the full state Senate following committee approval late Monday night.
After seven hours of public testimony, the state Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7 to 6 to approve and send the Freedom of Religion and Equality in Civil Marriage Act to the full Senate for consideration.
While state lawmakers voted for gay marriage for the first time in the state’s history Monday night, the proposal faces difficulties in the Senate.
The bill needs 21 votes in the Senate, and Democrats hold a 23-17 majority there.
However, reports indicate anywhere between two and seven Democratic senators are likely to vote against it.
On the other side of the aisle Sen. Bill Baroni, R-Mercer, Middlesex, is the only Republican consistently seen as supporting the measure, following his Monday night committee vote.
Democrats hold a wider majority in the General Assembly, where the bill is considered more likely to pass.
If the Senate approves gay marriage this week, it will likely be considered by the Assembly before Gov. Jon S. Corzine leaves office. Corzine has promised to support the legislation; Governor-elect Chris Christie has not.
If the bill is put into law, New Jersey would become the sixth state to allow same sex unions.