U.S. Senators Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez have joined the seven Democratic House members in urging state lawmakers to pass the soon-to-be-introduced marriage equality act.
In a letter to the Democratic members of the Senate and Assembly, the nine federal legislators urge their state colleagues to end “discrimination in marriage.”
“New Jersey has a proud history of civil rights leadership, and we must continue our role in pursuing fairness and equality. Other states with a combined population of more than 35 million people already have marriage equality – including our next door neighbor, New York,” the letter states.
The letter goes on to say that New Jersey’s civil union law does not provide equality and could erode further as more states allow same sex marriage.
“The 2008 Civil Union Review Commission concluded there was ‘overwhelming evidence that civil unions will not be recognized by the general public as the equivalent of marriage in New Jersey with the passage of time.”
The civil union law enacted five years ago was one of the strongest in the nation, so “fixing” the law already on the books is not a viable option, the lawmakers say.
Same sex marriage in New Jersey came close to becoming law two years ago, but failed when the Senate could only muster 14 votes. Supporters say they have a better shot this time around as some lawmakers, including Senate President Steve Sweeney, have since come out in favor of the legislation. But the measure could still face an uphill battle as Gov. Chris Christie has indicated in the past that he would not sign the measure.
Below is a copy of the letter sent to Democratic state legislators.