The plan was to pass this legislation during the lame-duck session. But insiders now say there are serious questions about whether Democrats have the votes to do so. And as one proponent of the legislation is now saying “the advocates are going to have to prove that the support is there” before it’s even brought up for a vote.
Here’s the thing, apparently in the Senate the votes exist. Gay marriage would likely pass the upper house with Republican support ( albeit a small number of Repubs ). In the Assembly, support is less certain. This is for several reasons…but the problem is within the Democratic party.
One, Democrats are no longer 48 votes. They are 45, because three guys are in legal hot water ( Vas, Chiapppone and Smith ). Second, some Democrats who won re-election last week didn’t quite knock ’em dead with their vote totals, perhaps putting their hold on those offices a little less firm. I suppose you could say the message was received on that one. Then of course there is Maine. Voters there overturned gay marriage last week in a referendum. Legislators appear to be noticing that as well, and do not want to be embarrssingly rebuked by constituents.
One Democrat even told me that they thought civil unions should have been given more of a chance. That perhaps gay marraige will happen in NJ someday, but not necessarily next week.
And that brings me to the final point here which is that there isn’t a lot of time. Legislators aren’t expected to conduct any official business until November 23. Officially I am told that the Democratic caucus hasn’t had any meetings on this issue. So even if there is a committee hearing that first day back, could it reasonably be passed before the end of the year? Seems like a very small window for an issue that hasn’t been firmly decided one way or the other.
Governor Corzine has said he would sign it. And Christie most certainly will not. So, if the Dems are gonna get this thing passed time’s-a-wastin’.