One year ago last week New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a marriage equality bill one day after it had passed in the Assembly and landed on his desk. Yesterday Democratic leaders in both state chambers announced a plan to attempt to override that veto before the end of the current legislative session.
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.”
Sweeney said the override attempt might occur after the June primaries so that Republicans would be safer from punishment by the voters. The current New Jersey legislative session began in January last year and ends in January 2014.