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New Jersey Senate committee approves same-sex marriage bill

[JURIST] The New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7-6 Monday in favor of a bill [text, PDF] that would legalize same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive] in the state. This is the first time that any body in the state legislature [official website] has approved a same-sex marriage bill. The vote came after hours of debate [NYT report] with testimony from supporters and opponents of the legislation. The bill will now move before the full senate for a vote scheduled for Thursday. It is unclear whether there is enough support to approve the legislation. If passed by the full senate, the bill would then go before the state assembly, where it is more likely to pass. Outgoing Governor Jon Corzine (D) has promised to sign the bill [CNN report], but Governor-elect Chris Christie (R), who takes office next month, has vowed to veto it.

Last week, the New York Senate defeated legislation [JURIST report] to allow same-sex marriage. In November, Maine voters vetoed [JURIST report] a same-sex marriage bill passed by that state's legislature. The Maine vote came a year after California voters approved Proposition 8 [JURIST report], an amendment to the state constitution overturning the state's high court ruling [JURIST report] in favor of same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is legal in four states in the US - Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont - and will be legal in New Hampshire [JURIST reports] starting January 1. New Jersey has recognized same-sex civil unions [JURIST report] since 2006.

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