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New Jersey Senate postpones same-sex marriage vote

[JURIST] Supporters of a New Jersey same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive] bill [text, PDF] decided Wednesday night to delay a State Senate vote scheduled for Thursday. The bill's sponsors, Democratic senators Raymond Lesniak and Loretta Weinberg, withdrew the bill [NYT report] from the senate agenda, saying they wanted to allow a hearing in the general assembly before the vote took place. Opponents of the legislation have criticized the delay as an affront to the legislative process, while supporters have said that a hearing in the general assembly is the best way for everyone to voice their opinions. The New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee voted 7-6 Monday in favor of the bill [JURIST report], the first time that any body in the state legislature [official website] has approved same-sex marriage legislation. The vote came after hours of debate [NYT report] with testimony from supporters and opponents of the legislation. Supporters are hoping to pass the legislation before outgoing Governor Jon Corzine (D) leaves office on January 19. He has promised to sign the bill [CNN report], but Governor-elect Chris Christie (R) 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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