New Jersey and Washington State both have Catholic governors, and both states will be considering marriage equality bills this legislative session. The news from both states is that both bills are gaining a lot of momentum for passage.
On a Wall Street Journal politics blog, Heather Haddon reports that both the Senate and Assembly of New Jersey are very close to having enough votes to override any potential veto of the marriage bill which may come from Catholic governor Chris Christie:
“State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, one of the bill’s sponsors, estimated the chamber had between 24 and 27 supporters for legislation to allow for same-sex marriage in New Jersey. It takes 27 votes in the 40-member state senate to override a governor’s veto. . . .
“Assembly Speaker Shelia Oliver, a Democrat, has said that she has majority support for same-sex marriage legislation, and that she would work to garner the 54 votes necessary for a veto override in the 80-member Assembly.”
A veto override may not even be necessary. The CBS affiliate in the NY-NJ region reports signs of indecision about vetoing the bill from Governor Christie, who previously had been adamantly opposed to marriage equality:
“A day after of the State address, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was non-committal on whether he would veto a same-sex marriage bill in the Garden State.
“Speaking with WCBS 880 anchors Wayne Cabot and Steve Scott, Christie said, ‘we’ll see what happens’ when directly asked if he would reject a gay marriage bill.”
In Washington State, the Senate is only one vote short of passing the bill, and there are enough supporters in the House and promised public support from Governor Christine Gregoire to make it law. The Seattle Times reports:
“State Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, on Thursday announced he’ll support legislation legalizing gay marriage.
“Kastama’s support means there are 24 state senators — 22 Democrats and two Republicans — who’ve said they’ll vote for Senate Bill 6239. That’s one short of the 25 needed for passage.
“The state House already has enough lawmakers in support of the measure to approve it. Gov. Chris Gregoire backs the bill as well.”
Maryland, the only other state considering a marriage equality bill this session, also has a Catholic governor, Martin O’Malley, who has pledged his full support.
Meanwhile, close to 80 mayors from across the US have pledged to work for marriage equality. The Washington Post‘s report notes that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the organizers of this mayoral coalition, specifically noted:
“It is also not about what organized religion should or should not do. This is a civil rights issue.”
Two of the five mayors who chair this project–Thomas Menino of Boston and Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles–are Catholic. A complete list of the mayors who support marriage equality can be found here. Please let us know if you know if any of the other mayors on the list are Catholic. (New Ways Ministry is attempting to develop a list of Catholic government leaders who support LGBT equality initiatives. You can read more about this project here.)
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry