It would have been pretty embarrassing if Jersey were to one-up New York on civil rights and pass their marriage equality bill just weeks after the Empire State told its own gay couples to go to hell.
Given how many ex-pat New York gays have colonized Jersey from Asbury Park to Montclair, it’s a taunting marriage equality advocates would gladly have accepted.
When New York’s senators, after stalling on the subject for years, showed in last week’s vote that most of their perpetual SSM Undecideds were actually Nos, marriage equality supporters turned their attention and energy to Jersey.
Now they’re under the gun, because while outgoing Governor Corzine has promised to sign it into law, Governor-Elect Christie, no matter how many times he’s seen Springsteen, has promised to veto it, and he takes office on January 18th.
Having gotten their bill out of committee, but fearing defeat in the Senate if the vote were held before their lobbying could turn some senators around, the sponsors of the Freedom of Religion and Equality in Civil Marriage Act pulled it from the senate schedule and sent it for a hearing in the gay-friendlier general assembly instead.
Even national gay marriage advocates, who are usually aggressive about calling votes, are getting nervous about the possibility of yet another high-profile defeat. The year has gone badly for them, with decisive drubbings in California, Maine and New York. (At least they’ve managed to stave off the gay death penalty.)
There’s a lot of lobbying on both sides, some of it in odd settings. The Times reports that New Jersey State Senator William Baroni, a Republican Roman Catholic who is voting for marriage equality, had his birthday party picketed by protesters recently. They were carrying signs with such witty, original slogans as “Phony Baloney Baroni” and “God says no, Baroni votes yes” — probably the strangest setting for a gay marriage debate since that pedicab driver stuck his head in Diane Savino’s car.