Democratic leaders in the New Jersey Legislature say enactment of a bill permitting same-sex marriage will be a priority this year.
It represents a second chance for Senate President Steve Sweeney, who said he made a terrible mistake by abstaining when the Senate voted against a marriage equality bill two years ago.
“I didn’t look at the issue for what it was,” he said Monday. “Marriage equality is not about religion because there are exemptions for that. It’s about civil rights. It’s about everyone having the same rights to marry and to be happy.”
Garden State Equality founder Steven Goldstein praised Sweeney for backing the measure.
“He’s evolved, just like the world has evolved. His commitment to this issue is passionate and sincere, and when we pass this legislation, he’ll go down as one of the great civil rights leaders of our time,” said Goldstein.
Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver believe they’ll get the votes to pass the bill. It’s not clear if there is enough support to override a probable veto by Gov. Chris Christie.
Monmouth University political analyst Patrick Murray says Democrats will use the issue to paint Christie as someone who’s endearing himself to conservative Republicans to further his national political ambitions.