By Kathleen Gilbert

TRENTON, New Jersey, December 8, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Following several hours of impassioned debate, New Jersey's Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday allowed a same-sex "marriage" bill to continue to the full Senate for a vote as early as Thursday.

State lawmakers voted 7-6 Monday evening to give the green light to the bill in hopes that it will reach the desk of Democrat Gov. Jon Corzine before he leaves office in six weeks.  Corzine, a same-sex "marriage" advocate, will be replaced in January by Republican Chris Christie, who has vowed to veto any such legislation.

Debate on the bill reached late into the night Monday, with witnesses reporting eight hours of sometimes heated discussion.

Democrat Sen. Loretta Weinberg, a sponsor of the bill, urged a vote in favor of the bill to protect "the right of every citizen ... to live with the person you love in full peace and security."

Republican State Sen. Gerry Cardinale said normalizing same-sex "marriage" would be detrimental to society.  "Some have chosen a path and I believe this law will encourage others to follow that path, and I do not think that will be good for this society," he said.

Cardinale also questioned homosexual "marriage" advocates for pushing the bill weeks after New Jersey voters rejected the socially-liberal Gov. Corzine. 
 
"This is a governor whose re-election has been defeated by the people of this state. This was an issue that was raised in the campaign," said Cardinale. "To allow this new culture-changing policy to take effect before the new governor is sworn in seems to me to be snubbing our nose at the people of this state and the way they voted."

Last week, the Star Ledger reported that hundreds of true marriage advocates and opponents marched upon Trenton's statehouse simultaneously to lobby lawmakers over the bill.

According to the breakdown of state senators' opinions on the bill, the likely turnout of Thursday's vote is not clear-cut either way.  Fifteen senators have said they support the bill, twenty are opposed, four are considered a toss-up (Sen.s Redd,  Sacco, Turner, Cunnigham), and one (Sen. Allen) will not vote.

Matt Rooney, the Executive Director of the New Jersey Young Republican Federation and a leading local political commentator, believes the bill is not likely to garner enough support to pass the Senate.  The floor vote, Rooney speculates, was allowed "to take the post-failure heat off of the N.J. Democrat establishment and shift any base angst towards the Democrat senators who vote 'no.'"

Last week, the New York State Senate overwhelmingly voted against its own same-sex "marriage" measure, a major blow to homosexualist advocates still recovering from the overturn of Maine's "marriage" law by voter referendum in November.

See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:

NY Senate Hands Gay Activists Crushing Defeat on Same-Sex "Marriage" Bill 

Clock Running Out on Same-Sex "Marriage" in New Jersey