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26 Feb
N.J. politics holding back same-sex marriage approvals, expert says

Delaware did it, and Minnesota is following closely behind the First State in legalizing same-sex marriage.

Politics, however, might be holding back progressive New Jersey from adopting gay marriage laws despite polls that show Garden State residents want marriage equality.

New Jersey was almost there last year, when both houses of the state Legislature passed bills that would have allowed same-sex marriage. The bill was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie. The Senate and Assembly votes on same-sex marriage bills came after two previous bills that would have allowed two different forms of civil unions.

“I voted for both of those (civil union bills) and I voted for same-sex marriage,” said Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-3, of Paulsboro), adding the same-sex marriage bill “would have put us at pace with our neighboring state.”

Burzichelli believes New Jersey is a progressive state that should be among those to legalize gay marriage. The signing of Minnesota’s same-sex marriage bill Wednesday makes it the first mid-western state to legalize gay marriage and the 12th in the nation.

New Jersey residents could support their state standing as the 13th state to allow same-sex marriage.

An April Eagleton Poll revealed more New Jerseyans than ever are in support of same-sex marriage in the state. Sixty-two percent of the 800 poll respondents are in favor of same-sex marriage approvals, the poll indicated.

“This is the first time we have ever crossed 60 percent on this question,” said David Weingart, a politics expert who heads Rutgers University’s Eagleton Poll. “New Jersey is showing the same trend we’re seeing nationally.”

If the same-sex marriage question were put to voters, Weingart said New Jersey would say “yes.”

Political complications, though, are holding it back.

“The other possibility is the Democrats say, ‘forget you, governor. We’re going to put it on the ballot,’” Weingart added.

Christie has already said he would put marriage equality to the voters. State House Democrats fought the referendum arguing civil rights should not be put to voters.

The Governor’s Office said Wednesday that Christie has not wavered in his opinion on same-sex marriage.