TRENTON, N.J. — In a move that supporters called a civil rights milestone, New Jersey's state Senate on Monday passed a bill to recognize same-sex marriages, marking the first time state lawmakers officially endorsed the idea — despite the promise of a veto by Gov. Chris Christie.
The vote was 24-16 in favor of the bill, a major swing from January 2010, when the Senate rejected it 20-14.
"It means the world isn't changing, it means the world has already changed," said Steven Goldstein, chairman of the gay rights group Garden State Equality. "So wake up and smell the equality."
Opponents say it's "an exercise in futility" even if the Assembly passes the bill Thursday as expected, given Christie's veto vow.
Len Deo, president of New Jersey Family Policy Council, called the vote "something we have to go through" and said it would be made moot with a veto.
Christie last month said he'd veto the legislation if it passed. He said that such a fundamental change should be up to a vote of the people, and he has called for a referendum on the issue.
Democratic leaders say they will not allow a vote, arguing that a majority of the people should not be entrusted with deciding whether to protect a minority.
Instead, gay-rights supporters are hopeful that they can get enough lawmakers on their side to override Christie's expected veto.
It would take two-thirds of both chambers of the Legislature and would have to happen by the time the current legislative session ends in January 2014.