Legislative leaders announce introduction of a marriage bill in NJ

This afternoon in Trenton, legislative leaders and marriage advocates announced that the introduction and passage of a marriage bill will be a top priority during the upcoming legislative session. The bill has full support of the legislature's most influential members and figures, including Senate President Steve Sweeney, incoming Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, incoming Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald, and state Democratic Chairman Assemblyman John Wisniewski. A bill to extend marriage to gay and lesbian couples will be the first legislation introduced in both chambers.

Our National Campaign Director Marc Solomon, who is on hand for today's announcement in Trenton, made the following remarks:

“Freedom to Marry is proud to partner with Garden State Equality and New Jersey’s tremendous legislative leaders, Senate President Sweeney and House Speaker Oliver, as we work together to make New Jersey the next state to end the exclusion of gay couples from marriage.  What New Jersey’s legislative leaders are telling us clearly today is that the Garden State values its gay and lesbian citizens fully, and does not accept treating same-sex couples and their families as second class citizens, as it presently does with civil unions.  Marriage matters for same-sex couples and their families, both because it says we’re a family through thick and thin in a way that nothing else does, and because it provides a critical safety-net of protections that civil unions do not.” 

Marriage advocates in New Jersey, namely our friends at Garden State Equality, have clearly dispelled the notion that New Jersey's current civil union law offers equal protections for same-sex couples and their families. The New Jersey Civil Union Commission conducted an in-depth analysis and found that in practice, civil unions fall significantly short in providing the protections that same-sex couples need to support their families. It recommended enacting marriage in its place. Many of these couples and Lambda Legal recently filed a lawsuit against the state demanding that their relationships be recognized as marriages.

Much has changed in the Garden State since a marriage bill died in the state Senate in January 2010. In addition to growing public support for the freedom to marry, Senate President Steve Sweeney is now championing the bill after abstaining during the 2010 vote. Sweeney has since said that his failure to vote for the marriage bill is the "biggest mistake" of his legislative career. 

Moreover, the marriage bill has the full support of New Jersey's Congressional Democrats who this morning issued a letter calling on the state legislature to end marriage discrimination once and for all:

"We, the entire Democratic membership of the New Jersey Congressional delegation, urge you to support the marriage equality bill being introduced by the Democratic leadership in the state Senate and Assembly, along with many sponsors.

New Jersey has a proud history of civil rights leadership, and we must continue our role in pursuing fairness and equality.  Other states with a combined population of more than 35 million people already have marriage equality - including our next door neighbor, New York."

Freedom to Marry is committed to working closely with Garden State Equality, legislative leaders, and other allies in Trenton to quickly pass marriage legislation in the Assembly and the Senate. If you live in New Jersey, click here to contact your state legislators and ask them to support the freedom to marry.


Freedom to Marry's National Campaign Director Marc Solomon with Senate President Sweeney:

Freedom to Marry's National Campaign Director Marc Solomon with Senate President Sweeney 

Marc with Marsha and Louise, two of the key faces of the marriage movement in New Jersey: