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New York state Senate rejects gay marriage, focus turns to N.J.

The 38-to-24 vote in the New York state Senate is a fresh and stinging defeat for gay marriage, which was also recently rejected in Maine. Now, the New Jersey legislature might take up this issue.

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Gay marriage advocates are certainly aware of public opinion. In California, where gay marriage was legalized by courts and later outlawed by ballot initiative, the gay and lesbian community remains split over when to return to the polls in an effort to legalize gay marriage. One reason why the New York Senate became such a battleground on the issue is because that state doesn't have a referendum or initiative process that would allow voters to overrule their representatives.

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Next up: New Jersey

Now that the question in New York has been decided for the near term, adversaries in the gay marriage debate are turning attentions to New Jersey, another state where the legislature is expected to vote on gay marriage in the coming weeks.

In that state, NOM has launched a $500,000 campaign to keep the state’s Democratic-controlled legislature from taking up the issue before Gov. Jon Corzine, who supports gay marriage, leaves office in January and is replaced by Republican Chris Christie. Mr. Christie says he would veto such a bill.

Two hundred Garden State Democrats – lawmakers, lobbyists, and activists – issued a letter Tuesday calling for the gay marriage vote. "We appreciate that this is a difficult issue for some state legislators," the letter reads. "We believe that equality and fairness are fundamental principles of New Jersey's Democratic Party, and that is why we call on the state legislature to vote immediately on, and pass, the marriage equality bill,” the letter read.

A November Rutgers-Eagleton poll, which took place before NOM intensified efforts in New Jersey, shows that voters there support legalizing same-sex marriage by a four-point margin.

David Redlawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, recently said: “While this tests opinion outside the intensity of a campaign to ban gay marriage, as occurred in California, there is more of a ‘live and let live’ attitude in New Jersey than in many other states that have dealt with this issue."

See also:

DC votes to allow gay marriage, but issue not settled

Maine vote a devastating blow to gay marriage

Gay rights advocates win a round on California’s Prop. 8

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