By Kathleen Gilbert

TRENTON, New Jersey, January 7, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The New Jersey state senate voted down a measure to legalize gay "marriage" this afternoon by a 20-14 margin, putting an end to a last-minute campaign to win approval before the departure of Democrat Gov. Jon Corzine, a same-sex "marriage" advocate.

Prior to the vote, lawmakers went back and forth with final speeches advocating for and against S1967, the "Freedom of Religion and Equality in Civil Marriage Act."  Several lawmakers, including Richard Codey, sought to win over support by putting the new definition of marriage on a par with the civil rights movement. 

Opponents, on the other hand, questioned why supporters of the bill refused to allow New Jersey citizens to tackle the contentious question in a referendum vote.  In all the states that have allowed voters to decide the marriage question, all have kept intact the definition of marriage between a man and a woman.

Prior to the vote, Regina Griggs, director of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX), criticized the comparison of homosexuality to racial issues.

"Contrary to Bond's statement equating skin color with homosexual behavior, major scientific studies and mental health associations have stated homosexuality is not innate," said Griggs in a statement.  "No replicated scientific study has found a gay gene, gay DNA, or gay center of the brain. 

"Sexual orientation is a matter of self-affirmation and public declaration.  Many African-Americans have come out of homosexuality, proving sexual orientation can change, but skin color does not."  

New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, who had promised to sign the legislation, will be replaced by Republican Governor-elect Chris Christie on January 19.  Christie has vowed to veto same-sex "marriage" legislation.

Rabbi Noson Leiter of Torah Jews for Morality hailed the defeat of the bill he called a "threat to religious liberty."

"This is a tremendous Divine salvation from an existential threat of unprecedented magnitude," Leiter told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) minutes after the vote.  "We are thankful to the Almighty for allowing us to participate in this."  Leiter said his group, a leading orthodox Jewish advocacy organization, helped mobilized "thousands, if not tens of thousands" of Jews across New Jersey to oppose the bill.