The New Jersey Senate voted down gay marriage today, effectively ending any hopes for marriage equality in the Garden State until at least the end of incoming Governor Chris Christie’s first term in 2014.
The defeat mirrors a similar blow-out in the New York State Senate last month. Both houses of both legislatures are controlled by Democrats, and it was a tough fight just to get a floor vote in either Senate, where the bills were both ultimately defeated.
The Jersey bill failed 20-14, with six members not voting. Similar to New York, the only yea votes were from previously committed supporters. Undeclared Senators didn’t come on board.
There were some important differences between the defeats in the two states, though.
In New Jersey, supporters did earn one Republican vote for their cause, from Senator Bill Baroni, who gave a speech for equality that rivaled Diane Savino’s in its eloquence and earnest compassion. It looked like Republican Senator Sean Kean of Monmouth was on board as well when he started speaking. But, after talking at length about how gays are good, rich and don’t destroy neighborhoods when they move in like other minorities, the self-described representative of the most gay district in New Jersey gave his constituents a big up-yours and voted no.
Another striking difference between the Jersey and New York senate votes was that in the Jersey Senate, multiple people voting for discrimination had the guts to actually stand up and explain why they were doing so. In New York, the sole Senator to have the guts to do that was Ruben Diaz.
So that wraps up the elusive quest for gay marriage in the greater metropolitan region for the time being, most likely until the federal trial against Prop 8 provides any national guidance.
The only upshot, for now, is that, while New York is not superior, at least it’s not inferior to Jersey when it comes to civil rights. (It’s just inferior to, say, Des Moines.) But had Jersey pulled ahead, it’s a stigma we’d have gladly suffered until New York got its own act together.