In this video press release, Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex), Assembly Deputy Speaker John S. Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) and Assembly members Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), Mila M. Jasey (D-Essex), John F. McKeon (D-Essex), Connie Wagner (D-Bergen) and Timothy J. Eustace, D.C. (D-Bergen) respond to Gov. Chris Christie's absolute veto of their landmark marriage equality legislation.
The measure (S-1/A-1) passed the Senate Feb. 13, by a vote of 24-16, and received final legislative approval in the General Assembly Feb. 16, by a vote of 42-33.
The "Marriage Equality and Religious Exemption Act" would have eliminated the civil unions that have been in place in New Jersey since 2007 but have failed to provide equal treatment to the state's same-sex couples and instead would have defined marriage as the legally recognized union of two consenting people in a committed relationship.
It also expressly stipulated that no clergy of any religion authorized to solemnize marriage, nor any religious society, institution or organization in the state would have been required to conduct any marriage in violation of their free exercise of religion.
The Legislature may override a governor's conditional veto of a piece of legislation with the support of two-thirds of the members of each house: 27 in the Senate and 54 in the General Assembly. A veto override may be attempted at any point during the legislative session in which the bill was vetoed. Legislative sessions in New Jersey last two years; the current legislative session ends at 11:59a.m. on Jan. 14, 2014. A veto override attempt must begin in the bill's house of origin, in this case the Senate.