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New Jersey Gay Marriage Vote Postponed

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By Minara El-Rahman on December 10, 2009 12:15 PM

A vote on the New Jersey gay marriage bill, slated to take place in the New Jersey Senate, has been canceled by the bill's sponsors. The New York Times reports that the sponsors canceled the vote in order to allow a hearing in the General Assembly where they claim support for gay marriage law will be stronger.

The bill's sponsors are Senators Raymond J. Lesniak and Loretta Weinberg who are both Democrats. The decision was made because the proposed New Jersey gay marriage law seemed like it was unlikely to pass through the Senate.

This has caused both opponents of the bill and supporters of the gay marriage bill to be disappointed. The supporters of the bill are trying to push it past the Senate before January 19, 2010 because that is when Democrat New Jersey governor Jon Corzine (who said he will sign the bill) is going to be replaced with a Republican governor-elect Christopher Christie. who said he will not support a New Jersey gay marriage law.

In the meantime, opponents of gay marriage have said that this is an abuse of power on the part of the Senate sponsors of the gay marriage bill. The New York Times quotes John Tomicki, president of the New Jersey Coalition to Preserve and Protect Marriage as saying, "It makes a mockery of the legislative process. They're using the Legislature as a propaganda tool. They didn't have the courage to bring the issue up before the election, and now they're playing games to do things that the public doesn't approve of at the very last minute."

Whatever the case may be, it seems like both sides are scrambling to pressure legislators to make a decision either way.

For now, gay couples can enter a civil union in the state of New Jersey which provides them with rights such as:

  • rights under family laws, such as annulment, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, domestic violence, adoption, and property division
  • rights to sue for wrongful death, loss of consortium, and under any other tort or law concerning spousal relationships
  • medical rights, such as hospital visitation, notification, and durable power of attorney
    family leave benefits
  • joint state tax filing, and
  • property inheritance when one partner dies without a will.

However, gay couples in New Jersey don't get the rights and benefits of marriage under federal law. Furthermore, gay couples in New Jersey can not receive Social Security benefits, immigration privileges, use the marriage exemption on taxes for federal estates, transfers, or gifts.

According to the New York Times, Assembly speaker, Joseph J. Roberts Jr., a Democrat from Camden supports the Senate sponsors' decision to delay the gay marriage vote in the Senate. He supports the gay marriage bill because he feels that the current civil union law in New Jersey is inadequate.

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