Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Stalemate Seen as Likely after Gay Marriage Votes

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Stalemate Seen as Likely after Gay Marriage Votes

Article excerpt

Trenton will be packed with emotion this week as both houses of the Legislature are expected to pass a gay marriage bill, but leaders on both sides of the issue concede it will kick off a long political standoff between Republican Governor Christie and Democrats.

Christie has pledged to veto the bill, and Democrats say they're unlikely to quickly muster the two-thirds majorities needed to override him. Democrats also will ignore Christie's proposal to instead put gay marriage up to voters in a November referendum.

Gay marriage opponents say such a stalemate will put New Jersey's 10-year debate on ice for a long time. Supporters, however, will treat a vote by both houses as an important milestone in a fight they will continue to wage.

"I don't think there's one civil rights leader in the South who thought ending segregation would be a slam dunk on the first time out," said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Mercer, New Jersey's first openly gay lawmaker.

Steven Goldstein, chairman of the gay rights advocacy group Garden State Equality, said the group will celebrate if it passes.

"This week's marriage equality votes are like the World Series, the Super Bowl and a Barbra Streisand concert all wrapped up in one," he said.

State Sen. Michael Doherty, R-Warren, who opposes gay marriage, said leaders of the gay marriage effort are fooling their followers.

"It's unfortunate that they sell hope to their constituents they're advocating on behalf of," Doherty said. "I don't think it's too fair to the supporters of gay marriage to say, 'We're going to get it done this time,' when they know nothing is going to happen."

Lawmakers say there will be heartfelt, passionate speeches on the floor of the Senate Monday and the Assembly on Thursday. Gay rights advocates who wear blue when they gather in Trenton promise to fill the galleries of both houses. …

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