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NJ Assembly votes to approve same-sex marriage

The New Jersey State Assembly voted 42-33 on Thursday to legalize same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder]. Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver [official website], who sponsored the bill, indicated [AP report] that she was proud the legislature was able to use the legislative process to represent all of the citizens of the state. The approved legislation [Marriage Equality and Religious Exemption Act, PDF] was forwarded to Governor Chris Christie [official website] on Friday morning. Christie has stated that he plans to veto the bill [WSJ report], believing the issue should be placed before the voters of the state in a referendum. Both chambers are currently lacking the two-thirds needed to overrule a veto. In order to override such a veto, 27 votes will be needed in the Senate and 54 votes in the Assembly.

Thursday's outcome was expected after the New Jersey Senate [official website] approved the bill [JURIST report] on Monday, in a vote of 24-16. Approval of the legislation marks a shift from the legislature's previous position concerning same-sex marriage. A similar bill was defeated [JURIST report] in the state Senate last year. In November, a lawsuit [JURIST report] was allowed to continue in New Jersey, which seeks declaratory and injunctive relief against the state's current civil union law as a contravention of both the Fourteenth Amendment [Cornell LII backgrounder] and the New Jersey State Constitution. On Monday, Washington became the eighth jurisdiction [JURIST report] in the US legalizing same-sex marriage.

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