New Jersey's Senate turned down a bill to legalize gay marriage Thursday, scoring another win for traditional marriage advocates.
"Once again gay marriage advocates forced a vote, and once again they learned the truth: the American people do not want their politicians spending time passing gay marriage," commented Brian Brown, executive director for the National Organization for Marriage.
Shortly after the bill was rejected by a 20-14 vote, however, gay rights advocates announced they would file a lawsuit to get New Jersey's Supreme Court to order the state to recognize same-sex marriage, arguing that civil unions don't go far enough.
Though the high court had ruled in 2006 that the state must grant all the benefits of marriage to committed gay couples, gay rights activists say the legalization of civil unions for gay couples following the ruling largely doesn't work – reason enough for the court to mandate gay marriage.
To date, only five states - Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont - recognize gay marriage, and only two – New Hampshire and Vermont– approved it legislatively.
Last month, the state Senate in New York rejected legislation that would have allowed gay marriage in that state, and the month before, Maine voters overturned a similar law.
Gay rights advocates had been pushing to pass New Jersey's gay marriage bill before Jan. 19, when incoming Gov. Chris Christie takes office. While outgoing Gov. Jon Corzine had promised to sign the bill, Christie had vowed to veto it.
Amid the push, conservative groups such as the Catholic Conference and the New Jersey Family Policy Council were reportedly able to mobilize tens of thousands of New Jerseyans to contact their elected representatives to voice their concerns over the legalization of same-sex marriage, which they argue is less about rights and more about public acceptance of a practice that is by all accounts – anatomically, biblically, socially – not right.
"[Their] voice came through loud and clear," commented Brown, whose organization spent a total of $1.2 million in voter and media outreach in their campaigns to block gay marriage in New Jersey and New York. "Congratulations, New Jersey. This is a vote for marriage, for common sense, and for democracy."
Next week, California will become the next battleground for marriage with a federal trial challenging the state's voter-approved Proposition 8 set to begin Monday.
California voters had passed Prop. 8 by a 52.1 percent vote in 2008, establishing marriage as union between a man and a woman. The proposition reversed a ruling from the California Supreme Court, which earlier that year declared that banning same-sex marriage was discriminatory.