Corridor of Love: Connecticut Could Tip the Scales in Favor of a Marriage Equality Zone That Stretches from Vermont to New Jersey-But How Will the Decision Sway Voters in California?

By Kaiser, Charles | The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine), November 18, 2008 | Go to article overview

Corridor of Love: Connecticut Could Tip the Scales in Favor of a Marriage Equality Zone That Stretches from Vermont to New Jersey-But How Will the Decision Sway Voters in California?


Kaiser, Charles, The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)


Newly energized by the October decision by the Connecticut supreme court, gay rights advocates in New York and New Jersey are predicting a new East Coast "marriage equality zone," which could soon stretch from Vermont to New Jersey.

"It affects our momentum enormously for two reasons," says Steven Goldstein, the chairman of Garden State Equality in New Jersey. "The Connecticut decision is the first victory in the New York tristate region. We're in the same media market, and it's already all over TV. And the New Jersey civil union law is exactly the same as the Connecticut one"-which the Connecticut supreme court ruled inadequate--to the decision will no doubt resonate in New Jersey."

New Jersey governor Jon Corzine, the Democratic assembly majority leader, and the Democratic senate president have all endorsed bringing true marriage equality to a state where a strong civil unions bill took effect in 2007. This summer a Zogby poll found that 5996 of New Jersey residents had no objection to changing the civil unions law to marriage equality, with only 36% opposed. A remarkable 69% of New Jerseyans said they thought marriage equality is inevitable.

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Goldstein says support ers of gay marriage already have the votes to pass a bill in the assembly, "and we are right on the cusp in the senate. We are very confident we will pass it by the end of 2009. We're trying to become the first state to pass marriage equality by legislation. Massachusetts was first through judicial order."

Veteran New York City liberal activist and lobbyist Ethan Geto was equally optimistic about the impact of the new court decision in his state, "The more that other states--especially neighbors like Connecticut-enact marriage equality, the comfortable legislators in New York and New Jersey will become with the concept."

The push for marriage equality in New York got a big boost after David Paterson succeeded Eliot Spitzer as governor. One of Paterson's first acts was to order every state agency to extend full recognition to same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. Then this June the state assembly approved a marriage equality act by 85 to 61, after four Republicans joined 81 Democrats in support of the bill.

The Republican-controlled state senate is the main roadblock to progress. A scorecard maintained by the Empire State Pride Agenda shows that out of 62 state senators, 21 favor marriage equality, 31 oppose it, and 10 have taken no public position. Geto says the key to victory will be Democratic control of the senate, a goal that has eluded the party for decades but seems to be within reach this November. …

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