New Jersey's Assembly passed a same-sex marriage bill late Thursday afternoon that would make it the eighth state to allow homosexual couples to marry. But Republican Gov. Chris Christie, promising "swift action," has pledged to veto the measure.
Today's 42-33 lower chamber vote came on the heels of the Senate's 24-16 vote in favor of the measure. In the Senate, two Republicans voted in favor of the bill while two Democrats voted no.
The real challenge now for proponents of same-sex marriage is to get more Republicans to vote in favor of overturning the governor's veto, which Gov. Christie says will not happen. Past attempts to override Christie's veto on other issues have all failed.
"The history of marriage as between one man and one woman is an institution that predates any society," Fr. Timothy Christy, the pastor of St. Magdlen de Pazzi Church, who was among the bill's opponents, told The Wall Street Journal. "It is such a deeply held social norm."
Proponents of the bill are now adopting a longer-term strategy and hope to parlay growing voter support of the issue to eventually pass a same-sex marriage law. They have also adopted a judicial strategy with seven gay couple and their children filing suit, claiming that the state's civil union law is not effective.
A recent voter poll found that 52 percent of New Jersey citizens are in favor of gay marriage, while 42 percent oppose it.
"Civil rights is incremental, civil rights is long range, and you take one achievement at a time," Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality told The Washington Post."
This isn't the state's first attempt to pass a same-sex marriage bill.
Just before former Democrat Gov. Jon Corzine left office two years ago, a similar bill was defeated in the state Senate. Corzine had promised to sign the bill if passed. Afterward, Democrats and proponents of same-sex marriage vowed to continue bringing the legislation up until passed.
State Sen. Kip Bateman (R-Somerset) has drafted a resolution that would allow the state's voters to decide the issue. However, Senate President Steve Sweeney has said he would not allow the Senate to vote on the measure, thus insuring it will not be passed.
Six states and Washington, D.C. recognize same-sex marriage. Washington state's recently passed law will take effect in June.