New Jersey is shaping up as the next battleground for gay marriage as advocates for and against begin recruiting volunteers and calling lawmakers in preparation for a major public debate later this year.
Lawmakers are expected to debate a same-sex marriage bill during the lame-duck period between the November 3 election and start of a new legislative session in January.
The Marriage Minutement, a group organized by the New Jersey Family Policy Council, is holding meetings in conservative churches, mostly in legislative districts where lawmakers are believed to be on the fence on the issue. Last week, 140 people showed up at one of its many meetings, agreeing to sign petitions and call lawmakers to let their opposition be known.
Advocates for gay marriage are also increasing their efforts, taking much the same action to mobilize volunteers to pressure lawmakers.
In 2006, the state Supreme Court said that committed gay couples deserved the same treatment as straight married couples. The Legislature responded by making New Jersey the third state to offer civil unions, which give the same legal benefits the state offers to married couples, but not the title of marriage.
Pictured: NJ Governor Jon Corzine signs the Civil Unions bill in 2006.