The New Jersey Senate voted down same-sex marriage by a 20-14 vote this afternoon.
The Senate had put off a vote in December when they did not have the votes to pass the measure. Under pressure from LGBT equality groups, the issue did make it to the Senate floor so that legislators who had promised to support the measure would have to go on record either for or against it.
Had the bill passed the Senate, it would have gone to the Assembly on Monday.
The state was under deadline to pass the marriage equality bill. Gov. Jon Corzine promised to sign it had the bill come to his desk. Incoming Gov. Chris Christie opposes same-sex marriage and said he would veto the measure.
With this defeat, same-sex marriage is effectively dead legislatively in New Jersey for at least the next four years.
New Jersey does have civil unions, however. Those remain in effect. When the legislature passed civil unions, they also created a commission to study whether those who got a civil union received the same benefits as those who were married. Of the first 1,000 couples who received a civil union, more than half filed discrimination complaints. Separate was not equal.
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont remain the only states with same-sex marriage.
In a statement, Gov. Corzine said, “While I appreciate the Senate’s willingness to publicly debate the marriage equality bill, I am deeply disappointed by the final tally on this common-sense measure that would have assured equal rights for all New Jerseyans.
“Most assuredly, this is an issue of civil rights and civil liberties, the foundation of our state and federal constitutions. Denying any group of people a fundamental human right because of who they are, or whom they love, is wrong, plain and simple.”
“As was the case when Americans faced legal discrimination on the basis of their race or gender, history will frown on the denial of the basic right of marriage equality. I regret that the state’s recognition of equal justice and equal treatment under the law will be delayed. Certainly this process and the resulting debate is historic, but unfortunately, today’s vote was squarely on the wrong side of history.”
In a statement from Garden State Equality executive director Steven Goldstein said, “He said that there will be an announcement soon about new legal action in coordination with Lambda Legal.