February 17 was the one year anniversary of Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's veto of the marriage equality bill passed by the legislature. Democratic leaders in the Assembly and Senate have announced they will attempt to override that veto before the end of the current session, reports Politicker NJ.
Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, an openly gay lawmaker who sponsored the bill in the Assembly, said he met with both Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Majority Leader Lou Greenwald and both men were committed to putting the bill up for an override. The bill did not pass in either house with enough votes to override the governor's action, but gay rights advocates have been working the phones for a year trying to turn lawmakers in their favor.
The bill passed 24-16 in the Senate and 42-33 in the Assembly. In the Senate, three additional votes are needed to pass an override, while in the Assembly an additional 12 are needed for the two-thirds majority required to override. "I think we can get the three in the Senate," he said. "But the Assembly is a different story. I can name five who might switch their vote, but it stops there."
Gusciora said he spoke to both men about the possibility of a ballot initiative to legalize same sex marriage, however Gusciora said Sweeney was against the idea. "He didn't close the door entirely, but he said he firmly believes that civil rights should not be on the ballot," Gusciora said. "I agree, but I think the worst thing that can happen is the status quo."
Christie has previously suggested a ballot initiative. Democratic legislative leaders and the state's leading gay activists have initially opposed that strategy.
Legislators can attempt a veto override as many times as necessary until the current session ends in January 2014.
Same-sex couples can now legally marry in nine states—Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington—and the District of Columbia. Illinois is currently pursuing legislation that would likely make it the tenth state to mandate equal marriage.