Supporters, opponents of same-sex marriage bill line up for Senate session

TRENTON – More than 100 people this morning were waiting to enter the Senate chambers, anxiously anticipating the vote on the same-sex marriage bill, S1.

Supporters as well as opponents stood side by side along the velvet rope that stretched along the long corridor of the Statehouse here.

“We hope they pass it,” said the Rev. Robert Kriesat of the Advent Lutheran Church in Warren, Somerset County. “It at least creates momentum. Other states will look to us and it will give us an opportunity.”

Kriesat was in attendance with Ed Mather, his partner of 43 years.

He said that while his congregants and church are accepting of his sexual preference, it’s the state statute that holds him back.

“It prevents me from doing what my own church allows me to do,” he said.

But several people who stood in the same line had trouble with the notion of broadening the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples. They wore buttons reading “Marriage: One Man + One Woman – Let the people vote.”

“They should vote no on homosexual marriage,” said Kedrick Brown of Middletown. “It’s not a civil rights issue.”

But Neal Porquette, of Sparta, who wore a T-shirt reading, “Equality the American Dream,” said civil unions have fallen short of providing the same benefits married couples enjoy.

“I was in the hospital two years and they would not notify (my partner) because he wasn’t a family member,” he said.

The Senate session is scheduled to begin at noon.

The Assembly session on Thursday features the companion bill, A1.

Supporters, opponents of same-sex marriage bill line up for Senate session