The New Jersey Assembly has voted to pass a marriage equality bill, but the threat of Governor Christie’s veto power now looms.
The Assembly voted 42 to 33 on Thursday to pass the legislation that was affirmed by the Senate earlier this week.
However, Governor Christie has vowed to “immediately” veto the legislation. Currently, the votes are not there to override a veto.
The initiative now shifts to Christie, who has 45 days to veto the bill but has vowed to do so immediately.
Democrats do not currently appear to have enough votes to override the veto with a two-thirds majority, though they have until the end of 2013 to try.
The Senate would need 27 votes, or three more than voted in favor of the bill on Monday, to override a veto. The Assembly would need to find another 13 votes to reach the required 54.
As noted above, marriage equality advocates do have a considerable amount of time in which to mount a veto override campaign, so a governor veto is by no means the end of the line for this marriage equality effort.
Indeed in a recent interview New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D), who abstained from voting on a same-sex marriage bill in 2010 but has championed the legislation in the Senate this time around, said last Friday on the Brian Lehrer Show:
“If the governor vetoes the bill, we’re gonna fight to override the governor. I have two years to do it almost, so that gives us plenty of time to work on people.”
A recently released Rutgers-Eagleton Poll shows that 54% of Garden State voters support legalizing same-sex marriage, a trend that cuts across religious and social divides.
There is also the matter of an ongoing marriage equality lawsuit. Lambda Legal together with Garden State Equality, acting on behalf of seven same-sex couples, is suing the state New Jersey in an attempt to secure full marriage rights.
While New Jersey already has a civil unions law, the suit argues civil unions have failed to give New Jersey’s resident the full and equal rights promised when the law was enacted.
Whether this may in the long term help the campaign remains to be seen, but regardless of the threat of a governor veto, and the ensuing battle that looks set to take place in the Garden State, this marks a historic day for the New Jersey Legislature which has never before managed to pass a marriage equality bill.