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NEW YORK Jan 5 New Jersey's state Senate will
vote on legalizing same-sex marriage this week, officials
announced on Tuesday, in a race against the clock before a new
governor who opposes the measure takes office.
If it passes the Senate, the measure must be approved by
the state Assembly before it could be signed into law by
outgoing Democratic Governor Jon Corzine, a supporter. Both
houses are controlled by Democrats.
"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," said Senate president Richard Codey.
Incoming Republican Governor Chris Christie, who defeated
Corzine in November and takes office on Jan. 19, has said he
would veto the measure if it came before him.
The outcome is uncertain, but local media reported on
Tuesday that backers of the bill do not have the 21 votes
necessary to win Senate passage.
Christie's victory in November has made some lawmakers wary
of supporting the controversial measure, and little time
remains to convince legislators whose votes are unknown or
undecided, observers say.
If the bill fails in the Senate, the proposal could lie
dormant for several years.
A Senate vote was canceled last month after it appeared the
bill would not pass. The Senate judiciary committee had
approved it earlier in December.
Iowa, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont
have legalized same sex marriage. Another 40 states have
specific laws banning it.
New Jersey recognizes same-sex civil unions, designed to
give gay couples the same legal rights as heterosexual couples.
But advocates of gay marriage say this does not go far enough.
(Reporting by Basil Katz; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Alan