Racing against Corzine exit, Christie entrance in NJ
FOX NewsBut if Corzine can sign the bill into law before then, Christie and opponents of same sex marriage will have to wait at least until the next state legislative elections in 2011 to fight back. "This is the whole ballgame," said Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, which has spent more than $600,000 in radio and TV ads and robo-calls against same-sex marriage. "If it's signed into law, we have a long hard slog to shift the nature of the Legislature," he said. If we win this vote, this is dead for the next four years."
Hoping to have outgoing Governor Jon Corzine sign a gay marriage bill into legislation before newly elected NJ Gov. Chris Christie is inaugurated, proponents of same sex marriage are in a race against time, and with the stakes high, both sides are spending money at breakneck speed.
The National Organization for Marriage has spent roughly $600,000.00 on radio spots and other campaign ads; Proponents of gay marriage have out spent them by nearly double.
Some marriage equality supporters believe that if Christie would make his own intentions clearer, there would be no need for the current frantic pace. Some believe if Christie is a supporter of Civil Unions, and those arrangements have been proven to be less than equal in benefits to marriage, that he ought to state what he believes to be the remedy for that situation, or say openly he does not believe gays should have equality.
The Marriage Equality bill which passed through the Judiciary Committee and was slated to be voted on before the Senate today, has been shelved by the bill's sponsors, two Democratic senators who ascertained that the 21 votes needed to pass the bill would not be forthcoming, sources say.
With New Jersey senators set to vote on whether gay couples can wed in their state, advocates on both sides are spending money furiously to gain the advantage in the latest battleground for same sex marriage.
Supporters of gay marriage are frantically pushing to get a bill to outgoing Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine before he leaves office next month. His successor, Republican Gov.-elect Chris Christie, has vowed to veto any such measure passed by the Legislature after he takes office Jan. 19.
But if Corzine can sign the bill into law before then, Christie and opponents of same sex marriage will have to wait at least until the next state legislative elections in 2011 to fight back.
"This is the whole ballgame," said Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, which has spent more than $600,000 in radio and TV ads and robo-calls against same-sex marriage.
"If it's signed into law, we have a long hard slog to shift the nature of the Legislature," he said. If we win this vote, this is dead for the next four years."
While it's not clear how much money both sides have spent, Brown said opponents of gay marriage have been "dwarfed" in spending by supporters, whom he estimates have spent more than $1 million in the last year.
The lead group campaigning for same sex marriage in New Jersey, Garden State Equality, did not return calls seeking comment.
The state Senate votes Thursday on the proposal, which would make New Jersey the sixth state to allow gay marriages, following in the footsteps of Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont.
A sponsor of the bill, though, has asked that Thursday's scheduled vote be delayed so that the bill can receive parallel consideration in the Assembly.
Sen. Ray Lesniak, a sponsor of the Marriage Equality Act, said Wednesday that the shift in strategy is designed to enhance chances for passage.
Supporters held a rally Monday at the State House, where 250 people handed out leaflets and confronted reluctant lawmakers.
Gay activist groups announced Monday they would release two new radio ads highlighting the stories of gay couples who have been denied health care coverage and other legal and social benefits enjoyed by married couples.
The latest battle on same sex marriage comes one week after New York lawmakers defeated a similar bill. Maine voters also rejected a measure this year, and last year California voters rescinded their law.
Supporters, however, point to Vermont and New Hampshire where lawmaker adopted gay marriage bills this year, while the city council in Washington, D.C. is expected to legalize gay marriage in the next few weeks.
Iowa's Supreme Court also recognized gay marriage this year.
The measure in New Jersey would fulfill a campaign pledge of Corzine's.