By Peter J. Smith
TRENTON, New Jersey, December 10, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Homosexual advocates in New Jersey snatched a same-sex “marriage” bill from the jaws of defeat on Wednesday, cancelling Thursday's scheduled vote in the state Senate after realizing that they lacked the votes for the measure's successful passage.
The bill's Senate sponsors, Sens. Raymond J. Lesniak (D-NJ 20) and Loretta Weinberg (D-NJ 37) revoked the bill from the Senate's agenda late Wednesday night, and stated that they wanted the General Assembly to examine the bill first before the Senate votes.
Democrats firmly control the N.J. Senate by a 23-17 margin, but a number of Democrats count themselves as opponents of same-sex “marriage.” According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-NJ 39) said he was aware of nine Senate Democrats who were intending to vote against the bill and would have doomed its passage.
The maneuver allows same-sex “marriage” activists to lobby the General Assembly heavily, where the passage of a homosexual “marriage” bill stands to have a better chance at passing. Both Sens. Lesniak and Weinberg hope that the Assembly Judiciary Committee will take up the measure, but that committee is not scheduled to return to Trenton until January 7.
A delay that long is risky for same-sex “marriage” activists, as it leaves little more than a week for both state houses to schedule votes before Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine leaves office on January 19. Corzine has promised to sign the bill, while his replacement, Gov.-elect Chris Christie, has promised a veto.
Despite having more potential backers in the Assembly, Democrats show little enthusiasm for acting on the measure.
An affirmative vote in the Senate on same-sex “marriage” would have politically eased the way for the Assembly's members still on the fence over the political consequences of voting for the bill. But the resounding defeat of same-sex “marriage” in the more socially “progressive” states of Maine and New York has not provided incentive for legislators to stake their political fortunes on the issue.
Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts Jr. (D-NJ 5) in a statement said that he was “disappointed that the sponsors have decided to delay the Senate vote” and further indicated that he did not yet have enough members in the Assembly to pass same-sex “marriage” legislation.
Roberts added, “I must emphasize that no hearing has been scheduled and that I am continuing to discuss this issue with our caucus to gauge whether there is enough support for it.”
The latest available New Jersey polls show that support for same-sex “marriage” has dropped among state voters, adding to the political liability state legislators risk by enacting unpopular legislation within a “lame-duck” session.
A Quinnipiac poll conducted between November 17-22 found that 49 percent of New Jersey adults oppose same-sex “marriage,” while just 46 percent are in favor, with six percent remaining undecided. The poll is a reversal of an earlier Quinnipiac trend that in April showed residents favoring such legislation 49 percent to 43 percent.
A Rutgers-Eagleton poll taken November 6-10 showed that while the New Jersey Catholic bishops are fighting against same-sex “marriage,” Christians identifying themselves to pollsters as “Protestant” were far more in line with the bishops' position than Catholics themselves.
A plurality of New Jersey residents who self-describe as Catholics support legalizing homosexual nuptials in the state: 48 percent support same-sex “marriage,” while 40 percent are opposed, and 12 percent say they are undecided.
Christians identifying themselves as “Protestant” fared much better when it came to supporting natural marriage: 55 percent oppose same-sex “marriage,” with 34 percent in favor, and 11 percent undecided.
The poll, however, does not reveal what impact the bishops' higher profile campaign against same-sex “marriage” has had on Catholic minds. Last Sunday, New Jersey's six bishops ordered a pastoral letter explaining the nature of marriage with an unequivocal condemnation of same-sex “marriage” read at parish pulpits.
Thirty-two states in the United States have rejected same-sex “marriage” with 30 states banning the practice through constitutional amendment. In three states, same-sex “marriage” was legislated through judicial fiat, and in only two states – Vermont and New Hampshire – is same-sex “marriage” legal through legislative action.
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