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NJ gay marriage bill passes in committee, heads to full Senate

NJ gay marriage bill passes in committee, heads to full Senate

TRENTON — Legislation to allow same-sex marriage in New Jersey cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee tonight after more than seven hours of emotional debate and testimony, setting the stage for a showdown in the full Senate, reports the NJ Star-Ledger.

NJ-Senate-HearingCheers erupted in the packed hearing room when the committee approved the bill 7 to 6.

The 10:06 p.m. vote came after more than 1,000 people flooded the Statehouse in an effort to sway lawmakers’ opinions on one of the most controversial bills of the decade.

During the marathon hearing, opponents including Orthodox Jews and Catholic officials argued that same-sex marriage would damage religious freedom and is not needed because the state already permits civil unions.

Supporters, including civil rights leaders and legal experts, said gay couples do not have equal rights without being allowed to marry.

Although the committee was expected to approve the bill, it’s unclear if the measure has enough support to pass the entire Senate, where it could reach the floor for a vote as early as Thursday.

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