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Same-sex marriage (SSM) in New Jersey via the Legislature

2012-JAN 28 to FEB-13: More referendum debate.
Bill passes Assembly committee. Senate passes bill.

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In this essay:
"SSM" refers to same-sex marriage;
LGBT refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender persons

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This is a continuation from an earlier essay

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Plans for the referendum, and an alternative:

Brian Brown, director of National Organization for Marriage (NOM) indicated that his group would advertise heavily in the state if a referendum were approved. He said:

"The content of our ads would be similar to what you've seen throughout the country, which is telling the truth about the consequences of same sex marriage." 1

Some marriage equality advocates suggest that the NOM ads are typically fear-based. Steven Goldstein said that ads opposing SSM prey on the public's fears and are often very effective. He said:

"If there were a law banning both sides from spending a penny, we'd win." 1

Of course, there is an alternate way to reflect the will of the people without:

  • Spending massive sums of money on advertising, like the $83 million spent in California over Proposition 8.

  • Risking higher levels of gay bashing and harassment that often accompanies months of aggressive anti-SSM advertising.

  • Loving, committed same-sex couples suffering psychologically by having their relationships verbally attacked.

The legislative activity, the governor's expected veto, the negative effects of a referendum, the cost, etc. could all be bypassed by simply having the governor and legislators accept in advance the results of an enhanced public opinion survey -- based perhaps on a sample size of 10,000 New Jersey adults, selected at random. That would produce an estimate of the true public opinion within a margin of error of ~+mn~1 percentage point. 2

I don't think that this has been tried anywhere in North America. But, there is always a first time. Imagine the consequences if a few tens of thousands of dollars were spent on a poll, and the many tens of millions of dollars that would have been spent on TV ads were given to charities!

On FEB-03, Governor Christie said:

"If the majority of the people want [same-sex marriage] prove it. Put it on the ballot, let it be voted on. ... I've told every Republican in the state legislator to vote to put it on the ballot. They need three-fifths to put it on the ballot. The Republicans have two-fifths in the legislature. So that means the Democrats only need to come up with one-fifth of the legislature...this is the bargain of your life. I'm giving you two-fifths! And the polls they show me say that if it goes on the ballot, ... [the referendum] will lose. How much more magnanimous can I be? What else do you want me to do? Go campaign for it too? Look, I'm doing the best I can here! 3

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2012-FEB-03: Assembly Judiciary Committee sends bill to the full Assembly:

At the public hearing, Madison Galluccio, 15, made an emotional plea to lawmakers to let her two dads, John and Michael Galluccio, marry and let her family feel equal. She said Gallucio:

ā€œI do have to say that New Jersey has made me feel discriminated, like Iā€™m some sort of outcast. But guess what New Jersey? Iā€™m no outcast. I am Madison Galluccio, and I am part of the Galluccio family. My parents will be married, and I will make sure that this happens till the day that I die. So please, will you help me? Help me feel equal. We arenā€™t different. Iā€™m not different. And I shouldnā€™t have to be forced to feel like Iā€™m different. This is my family, and I want us to be able to have the same rights as you. So NJ, please give me my freedom.ā€ 4

Two Democrats, committee chairperson Peter Barnes, (D-18) and Ralph Caputo, (D-28) had previously been opposed to SSM. Both reversed their position in the Judiciary Committee.

  • Barnes said that it was the task of legislators to: "... tackle the difficult issues, whether we agree or disagree. ... As a Catholic, as a person who does try to follow my faith, I really struggled with this over the past (few) years. Tradition has not always been good, and it has not always been fair. Tradition can't control our vote. I will absolutely be voting for this out of committee today, and I am absolutely leaning in favor of voting for this on the floor. The civil union is not working. ... I don't think reasonable minds can even disagree on that."

  • Caputo said: "All of us have our ideas about this particular issue. I think people have changed their mind [since] ... this legislation was first proposed, specifically me. ... prejudice [against homosexuals] was prevalent [but times have changed}. ... I see this as a moment of truth to deal with this issue face to face. I'm very optimistic about the future of this legislation." 5

All the Democrats voted in favor of the bill; all the Republicans voted against it. With a vote of 5 to 2, the Judiciary Committee passed the bill to the full Assembly.

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2012-FEB-11: Rutgers-Eagleton PollĀ shows strong margin of voters favor SSM:

Their poll shows:

  • 54% favor the legalization of same-sex marriages (an increase from 52% during 2011-OCT, four months earlier).
  • 35% oppose SSM (compared to 39% four months ago)

This is an increase of two percentage points in support and a decline of four percentage points in opposition. More details.

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2012-FEB-13: Senate passes bill:

The Senate voted on 2012-FEB-13 to pass the SSM bill. Two years previously, a similar measure failed. This time, SSM advocates picked up an additional 10 votes. The bill needed 21 votes to succeed, and passed 24 to 16. Two Republicans voted for the bill; two Democrats voted against it. Other votes were strictly along party lines with Democrats in favor of marriage equality and Republicans opposed. 6

Senator Gerald Cardinale (R) was the only person to speak against the bill. He said that SSM cheapened the institution of marriage. He said:

"This bill simply panders to well-financed pressure groups and is not in the public interest." 7

Senator Jennifer Beck (R) supported the bill. She said:

"Our republic was established to guarantee liberty to all people. It is our role as elected representatives to protect all of the people that live in our state." 6

Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, a pro-marriage equality group, commented on the probability that Governor Christie (R) will veto the bill. The Senate would then need to pick up only three more votes by the end of the current session on 2014-JAN-14 in order to override his veto. He said:

"The margin brought the notion of an override out of fantasyland. Before today, I would have said the chances of an override were one in a million. Now Iā€™d say itā€™s about one in two." 7

Goldstein also said:

"It means the world isn't changing, it means the world has already changed. So wake up and smell the equality." 6

When the final vote was counted, Senate president, Stephen Sweeney, gave a thumbs-up and said:

"These are human beings with feelings that love their partners and they want to be married. So be it." 7

The Associated Press article commented:

"Sen. Raymond Lesniak, a Democrat from Elizabeth, said that if all lawmakers voted their conscience and didn't cave to political pressure, there would be enough Senate votes now to override a veto. And he said that some lawmakers could switch positions, partly because of the influence of gay friends or family. 'You never know who's going to forward -- a daughter, a son, a neighbor of significant meaning of [sic] a senator or assemblyperson -- and change a mind,' he said." 6

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "N.J. gay marriage referendum could be costly, advocates warn," Associated Press, 2012-JAN-27, at:
  2. Sample Size Calculator," American Research Group, at:
  3. "NJ Assembly panel advances marriage equality bill; Christie calls himself 'magnanimous' for suggesting referendum," TowleRoad, 2012-FEB-02, at:
  4. "NJ teen makes hearbreaking plea to lawmakers to let her gay dads marry, 'Be Equal'," TowleRoad, 2012-FEB-03, at:
  5. Karen Ocamb, "Who Will NJ Gov Christie Listen to on Same Sex Marriage Rights?," Belerico Project, 2012-FEB-06, at:
  6. "New Jersey's state Senate passes gay marriage bill, Christie promises veto," Associated Press, 2012-FEB-14, at:
  7. Kate Zernike, "New Jersey Senate Votes to Legalize Gay Marriage," New York Times, 2012-FEB-13, at:

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Site navigation: Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > SSM Menu > New Jersey > here

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Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2012-JAN-24.
Latest update: 2012-FEB-15
Author: B.A. Robinson

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