The N.J. Senate is expected to vote Thursday on a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in the Garden State, NBC New York is reporting today. Time is of the essence, because outgoing Gov. Jon Corzine has said he would sign the bill into law if it passes, whereas incoming Gov. Chris Christie, who’ll be sworn in Jan. 19, has said he’d veto it. If the bill passes the Senate, it must then go to the State Assembly, which would have to hold its final vote next Monday, the last day of the legislative session. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Here’s the text of a press release that just came across the wires from the N.J. Senate Democratic caucus:

TRENTON — Senate President Richard J. Codey (D-Essex) today announced that the full Senate will consider bill S1967 — the “Freedom of Religion and Equality in Civil Marriage Act”— at the voting session scheduled for this Thursday.

“Given the intensely personal nature of this issue, I think the people of this state deserve the right to a formal debate on the Senate floor,” Codey said. “I’d like to commend both sides of this issue for their passionate advocacy thus far and the heartfelt testimony that we have heard.”

The Senate voting session is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 7. Further information on accommodations for the media and the general public will be released tomorrow.

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