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12/09/2009

Same turnpike, new exit

by Jeremy Hooper

It looks like there will be no New Jersey Senate vote tomorrow. Instead, the matter is expected to move over to the Assembly Judiciary Committee for more public schmoozing.

This from Senator Loretta Weinberg's office:

SENATOR LORETTA WEINBERG
DISTRICT 37 PRESS RELEASE

SENATORS WEINBERG & LESNIAK ASK SENATE PRESIDENT CODEY TO
HOLD THE MARRIAGE EQUALITY BILL UNTIL ASSEMBLY HAS A JUDICIARY HEARING ON THE BILL

This afternoon, Senator Ray Lesniak and I requested that Senate President Richard J. Codey hold Senate Bill 1967. We also requested that Speaker Joseph Roberts schedule a meeting for the Assembly Judiciary Committee on A2978, popularly known as the Freedom of Religion and Equality in Civil Marriage Act.

In light of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s historic passage of S1967, Senator Lesniak and I believe that the public needs another opportunity to engage legislators on this issue. Moreover, the Senate committee has substantially amended its version to include sweeping, additional protections for religious institutions. We believe that members of the public need to be afforded an additional opportunity to debate this new provision as well.

Tuesday’s Senate hearing was extraordinary. Hundreds of citizens lined up outside the committee chambers to offer testimony on behalf of, and in opposition to, the proposed legislation. Under the leadership of Chairman Sarlo, who conducted one of the most thoughtful and fair-minded hearings in which either of us has ever participated, the committee spent seven hours hearing from scores of New Jerseyans. We had to turn away another 150 witnesses for want of time. In addition to the committee hearing, thousands of citizens, and dozens of religious and secular organizations, have engaged our members in a thoughtful and productive dialogue on marriage equality.

Accordingly, as sponsors of S1967, we asked Senator Codey to postpone full Senate consideration of the Marriage Equality Act until the Assembly Speaker has an opportunity to review scheduling the Assembly Judiciary Committee for a hearing.

We thank Senator Codey for his leadership. Marriage equality is a difficult and challenging question for members from both sides of the aisle. Throughout this debate, he has been balanced and evenhanded in his treatment of all Senators. For this, he has our deepest gratitude.

#######

Some say this is a good sign. Others are less positive about the maneuver. As for this writer? Eh, I'm hungry and far more interested in feeding my face than in feeding the opinion machine. What, it's the truth?

And I'm a vegetarian, so I don't even dine on lame duck. Why pontificate around the same?

**

**UPDATE: Blue Jersey does feel like chewing the fat. Check 'em out: The surprises keep coming - the time line shifts on marriage equality [BJ]

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Your thoughts

So will the Boss come and sing??!!

Posted by: LOrion | Dec 9, 2009 5:49:03 PM

I was 100% convinced that the bill would be dead as a doornail by tomorrow, so this can only be a good thing.

Posted by: Bruno | Dec 9, 2009 6:17:05 PM

I have to admit, I didn't know how the bill would have done tomorrow and am hopeful that this will help its chances at passing. We'll see.

I'm a vegetarian too! (I know, shocker, a lesbian vegetarian.)

Posted by: Em | Dec 9, 2009 9:00:39 PM

What an incredible year 2009 has been for the marriage equality push! Taking up your metaphore, we've eaten defeats and victories. How about a year-in-review on bills around the world for domestic partenrship, civil union, and marriage?

Posted by: Coxygru | Dec 10, 2009 3:35:49 AM

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