NJ activists assembling at dawn for historic marriage vote

Lisa Neff, Staff writer

New Jersey gay rights activists planned to gather on Feb. 16 “at the break of dawn” to show their enthusiasm for a vote later in the day on the state’s marriage equality bill.

Garden State Equality, the statewide LGBT civil rights group, was organizing the presence in Trenton, encouraging participants to wear their “Equality-The American Dream” T-shirts to the statehouse.

Before leaving home, marriage equality supporters were being urged to e-mail their representatives to encourage support for the bill, set for a floor vote at 1 p.m. EST.

After the vote, Garden State Equality was planning a gathering at the Trenton Marriott ballroom. “For what we hope will be a huge celebration,” said GSE’s Steven Goldstein.

The marriage bill already has passed in the state Senate with a 24 to 16 vote. In 2010, a similar bill was defeated in the Senate by a 14 to 20 vote.

“When an issue sees a 70 percent increase in support in just two years, that proves the world isn’t changing – it proves the world has changed,” said Goldstein.

The House voted for marriage equality two years ago and is expected to do so again on Feb. 16.

However, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has vowed to veto the measure. The Republican has said that the voters should decide whether to legalize same-sex marriage, a departure from Democratic governors in Washington and Maryland this year.

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire signed her state’s marriage equality bill earlier this week, and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has said he is eager for a bill to reach his desk.

A recent poll in New Jersey found that 54 percent of voters support legalizing same-sex marriage. The same poll found that 53 percent of voters also think they should cast ballots on the issue.

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