Gay marriage proponents suffered a major setback when the New Jersey Senate rejected a gay marriage bill in a 20-14 vote.
Supporters had hoped to get the bill passed before Gov. Jon Corzine left office on Jan. 19. Corzine had promised to sign the bill. Newly sworn-in Gov. Christopher Christie opposes it.
In 2006, the state Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to give gay couples the same rights as heterosexuals, but did not specify whether it should take the form of marriage or civil unions.
The Legislature passed a civil union bill shortly thereafter, but gay rights advocates claimed they still faced barriers in getting health insurance coverage for partners and hospital visitation rights. They continue to contend the civil union bill doesn’t fulfill the court’s mandate.
Most likely, the battle will return to the courts to determine whether the civil union bill provides the equal rights mandated in the 2006 decision.
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