In a last-minute move, the New Jersey state senate today called off Thursday’s planned vote on the gay marriage bill, as supporters scrambling for votes said the controversial measure would have a better chance by shifting it to the Assembly for more debate, reports the New Jersey Star-Ledger.
The surprise announcement by the bill’s prime sponsors, Sens. Ray Lesniak and Loretta Weinberg, came as both sides turned up the heat on senators by flooding their office with phone calls — and, in some cases, picketing their homes.
Senate President Richard Codey said a Senate vote would not be held until “there has been adequate time to vet the bill before the Assembly Judiciary Committee.”
The move came as a surprise to many top Democrats, who had girded for a Senate showdown and were lukewarm to the idea of going through the Assembly first.
Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts, a supporter of the bill, said he was “disappointed that the sponsors have decided to delay the Senate vote.”
Weinberg and Lesniak said they wanted to “strengthen support” and build on momentum created by emotional testimony in a seven-hour hearing by the Seante Judiciary Committee. “That testimony was very positive and had a very positive effect,” said Lesniak.
But Sen. Michael Doherty, who opposes gay marriage, said the request for a delay shows supporters did not have the 21 votes needed for it to pass.
Supporters are trying to get the measure passed before the legislative session ends next month so they can get the bill to outgoing Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine before he leaves office next month.
Corzine has pledged to sign the bill but his successor, Republican Gov.-elect Chris Christie, has vowed to veto any such measure passed by the Legislature after he takes office Jan. 19.
Assembly Democrats could not say last night when the bill will be up for debate in the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
Full story at NJ.com.