TRENTON – The only senator whose vote is in question today in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing for marriage equality is Republican Kip Bateman, (R-16), Branchburg. Provided cover by Gov. Chris Christie, Bateman, one of the few Republicans seen as targets by bill advocates, will vote ‘no’ today, according to two sources knowledgeable.
Bateman’s new district includes Princeton, where same-sex couples and marriage equality advocates form a significant voter base, and he was seen as a possible supporter of the legislation.
But, according to one of the sources, Bateman was offered cover by Christie when the governor sounded the call for a marriage equality referendum all the way from Bridgewater today. The news moved quickly to Bateman, who reiterated the governor’s call and was swiftly rebuffed by state Sen. President Steve Sweeney, (D-3), West Deptford.
Sponsor state Sen. Ray Lesniak, (D-20), Elizabeth, was courting four Republicans for a possible veto override on the bill and Bateman was key to the potential quartet. Now, compiling the 27 votes for an override is moving out of reach for Lesniak.
The marriage equality bill, S1, is still expected to be passed by the panel today, 8-4, aloing party lines.
Anticipated votes in favor: Lesniak and state Sens. Nicholas Scutari, (D-22), Linden; Nia Gill, (D-34), Montclair; Nellie Pou, (D-35), North Haledon; Paul Sarlo, (D-36), Wood-Ridge; Joe Vitale, (D-19), Woodbridge; Brian Stack, (D-33), Union City; and Loretta Weinberg, (D-37), Teaneck. Vitale is voting for Bob Smith, (D-17), Piscataway.
Anticipated votes against: Bateman and state Sens. Mike Doherty, (R-23), Oxford Township; Joe Kyrillos, (R-13), Middletown; and Kevin O’Toole, (R-40), Cedar Grove. State Sen. Gerry Cardinale, (R-39), Demarest, is on vacation in St. Martin.