News (USA)

New Jersey Assembly committee advances marriage equality legislation

TRENTON, N.J. — A committee in the New Jersey State Assembly on Thursday approved a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, setting the stage for a showdown between the Democratic-controlled state legislature, and Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who has vowed to veto the measure.

Following a hearing of more than six hours, the Judiciary Committee passed the bill along party lines, 5-2, sending it to the full Assembly for a vote on Feb. 16, reported the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

At the same time the committee was taking testimony, Christie repeated before an overflow crowd at a town hall meeting in Morris County that he would veto any same-sex marriage bill that landed on his desk.

He again offered up the alternative he proposed last week: a referendum on the issue in November, noting that 31 other states had already done so. What he failed to say, however, was that such a referendum has never been approved by voters.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) said he would not allow a referendum on the issue.

“It’s time for everyone, from the governor to the chattering observers, to stop talking about a marriage equality referendum in terms of ‘if,’” Sweeney said in a written statement. “There will be no referendum on marriage equality in New Jersey, period.”

The state Senate is expected to take up the legislation on Feb. 13.

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