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New Jersey Legislature To Vote On Gay Marriage This Week Despite Threat Of Christie Veto

On the heels of last week’s ruling by the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that California’s Proposition 8 is unconstitutional and the state of Washington voting last week to legalize gay marriage, the national debate over gay equality shifts to New Jersey, with the state legislature expected to vote on a gay marriage bill tomorrow. Democratic State Senate President Stephen Sweeney predicts that it will pass both the Senate and State Assembly, but Governor Chris Christie will most likely veto it.

RELATED: Mitt Romney Tells CPAC: ‘I Prevented Massachusetts From Becoming The Las Vegas Of Gay Marriage’

Sweeney sounded rather bullish in his prediction that the bill will “absolutely” pass the Senate, but admitted that if the governor chooses to veto it, the legislative body does not have the two-thirds majority required to override it. Meanwhile, Governor Christie is still committed to putting gay marriage to a public referendum in the state. He has gotten a great deal of criticism for this move, and a Republican state senator has followed his lead by proposing a bill to put a referendum on the ballot this November.

“Let’s stop the political games and let the people of New Jersey decide,” said [State Senator Christopher] Bateman (R-Somerset) in a press release. “Marriage equality advocates and opponents would both have the ability to register their opinion at the ballot box. Nobody would be disenfranchised on either side of the issue.”

The move was immediately criticized by state Democrats. Assemblyman Reed Gusciora argued that “any time you provide voters an opportunity to make a judgment of one group over the other, it violates the Madisonian principle that are meant to protect majority whims over a given minority.” And Sweeney echoed similar sentiments, saying “when you put [civil rights] on the ballot, the majority will always deny the minority.”

RELATED: Jim McGreevey On New York’s Gay Marriage Law: Politicians Are ‘Catching Up To The American Public’

For her part, Washington Governor Christine Gregoire said she would be willing to meet with Christie to lobby him to change his position on the state legislature vote.

“I feel a good working relationship with Governor Christie… I respect him as a fellow governor. I have worked with him on a number of issues. So yeah, I would feel very comfortable sharing with him my personal journey and then sharing with him the overwhelming response that I’ve received.”

A recent poll found that a majority of New Jersey voters are in favor of holding a public referendum on gay marriage this November. Meanwhile, delegates in the Maryland state house are more divided on the issue, with recent polls showing voters are split down the middle on gay marriage.

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Josh Feldman is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @feldmaniac