TRENTON – Two years ago an attempt to pass same-sex marriage in New Jersey failed.
Advocates believe times – and politics – have changed enough that this year will be different.
“Today, states with a combined population of more than 35 million people have marriage equality,” Steven Goldstein, chair of Garden State Equality, said in a release this morning.
“The freedom to marry is now a success story that has made entire parts of our nation fairer – and no straight couple’s marriage has fallen apart because of it.”
The Democratic legislative leadership will discuss a new marriage equality bill this afternoon at the Statehouse just before the current legislative session ends with full chamber voting sessions of the Senate and Assembly. Supporters believe that a new bill to be introduced for the new legislative session has a better chance of gaining passage.
“The days are over when marriage equality was the third rail of American politics. Today, in a state and nation that supports marriage equality, not standing up for equality is the third rail for prejudice,” Goldstein said.
Among the key state lawmakers scheduled to publicly support the new bill today is Senate President Steve Sweeney, who abstained in January 2010, when the Senate defeated it 20-14.
He since has called that non-vote a wrong decision, and is now poised to help back a new bill in the upcoming legislative session.
Other leading Democrats scheduled to appear today include Speaker Sheila Oliver, and the respective majority leaders, Sen. Loretta Weinberg and Assemblyman Lou Greenwald.
“Make no mistake, this is a new America,” Goldstein said. “In the old America, zealots mocked LGBT people for wanting special rights, not equal rights. In the new America, our opponents want marriage as a special right for themselves.”
A Rutgers-Eagleton poll in October showed a majority of New Jersey voters support same-sex marriage.
And early this summer same-sex marriage proponents including Garden State Equality unveiled plans for a lawsuit to win same-sex marriage rights.
Rutgers-Eagleton poll: 52% of N.J. voters back same-sex marriage
Lawsuit planned to win right to same-sex marriage