New Jersey Inches Closer to Marriage Equality

New Jersey's state Senate passed a bill legalizing gay marriage today. But don't worry, Gov. Chris Christie will protect the state's heterosexuals from the horrifying prospect of loving gay couples being allowed to legally wed.

The AP reports that the New Jersey State Senate passed the bill 24-16, sending it to the state Assembly, which will also probably pass it. Christie, though, has pledged to veto. He wants a public referendum so everyone can vote on whether Jersey's gays should have the same rights as everybody else. If you'll remember, Christie defended this decision by saying he figured black people would've preferred to put their civil rights to a vote rather than having to do all those nasty marches and things (Newark mayor Cory Booker's response: "I shudder to think what would have happened if the civil rights gains, heroically established by courageous lawmakers in the 1960s, were instead conveniently left up to popular votes in our 50 states"). He later sort of apologized, saying his remarks weren't "clear" and that "I didn't mean to offend anybody, and if I did I'm sorry." He also says the majority of Jersey voters support gay marriage, so the referendum would pass anyway.

Given the onslaught of anti-gay rhetoric that conservative organizations would likely unleash on Jersey in advance of such a referendum, that's far from assured. And if Christie is so sure Jersey voters are for gay marriage, why doesn't he want to let their elected representatives make it a reality? Maybe because he wants to look tough on the gays to bolster his own conservative bona fides? Whatever the case, gay marriage won't become a reality in the state unless the courts decide it should (a lawsuit is pending now) or the legislature gets enough votes to override Christie's veto. They would have until 2014 to do that; let's hope they succeed.

NJ Senate OKs gay marriage bill in milestone vote [AP]