TRENTON, NJ --- Homosexual groups suffered their third straight major setback in the Northeast Thursday when the New Jersey Senate easily defeated a bill that would have legalized "gay marriage," 20-14.
The loss was expected but nevertheless is significant because it comes in a region of the country known for its social liberalism and in an area that "gay marriage" activists view as their stronghold. Of the five states that have redefined marriage, four are in the Northeast.
Just two and a half months ago the bill seemed as if it might be headed for passage but homosexual groups suffered a string of losses on Election Day, the most significant one for the bill being the defeat of Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, a "gay marriage" supporter. Republican Gov.-elect Chris Christie, who takes office Jan. 19, had pledged to veto it.
Also on Election Day Maine voters reversed a law that had legalized "gay marriage." One month later, New York's Senate stunned observers by easily defeating a "gay marriage" bill, 38-24.
The loss means the issue likely is dead in New Jersey for at least four years, or until another governor who supports "gay marriage" wins.
During floor debate, opponents of the bill said the issue should be put to voters.
"This is about letting the residents of New Jersey decide a major redefinition that has been recognized for thousands and thousands of years," Republican Sen. Michael J. Doherty, who voted against the bill, said.
Doherty said citizens "feel disenfranchised once again here today."
"I went around the state with organizations and we got thousands and thousands of petitions and signatures asking the legislature to pass a bill to put this on the ballot and let the residents of New Jersey decide this issue once and for all so we can move forward," Doherty said.
The issue has never lost at the ballot in any state, going 31-for-31.
The bill was expected to receive a vote in early December but was delayed when Senate sponsors saw they did not have the votes. The bill apparently was put to a vote Thursday simply to appease lobbying groups -- such as the homosexual organization Garden State Equality -- who wanted to see where senators stood on the issue.
National Organization for Marriage Executive Director Brian Brown, whose organization opposes "gay marriage," told Baptist Press the vote total reflects the fact that legislators were "overwhelming told" by constituents to vote against the bill.
"It's clear that the voters don't want same-sex marriage and that all of the hype about legislators being willing to move forward on this was wrong," Brown said. "I think the victory in Maine, and then in New York and in the 23rd District [of New York] have all played together to make it clear to legislators that constituents don't want same-sex marriage. … We're very happy. This is a decisive defeat."
Brown and others believe Republicans in the Northeast have been impacted by last fall's conservative revolt in New York’s 23rd U.S. congressional district that forced then-Republican Dede Scozzafava, a “gay marriage” supporter, out of the race due to a lack of support.
Mark Davis, pastor of West Monmouth Baptist Church in Freehold, N.J., told Baptist Press Wednesday that despite what some religious groups in the state claim, the Bible is clear in opposing "gay marriage." Christians, he said, must view the issue not through the lens of emotions or feelings but through what the Word of God says.
"This is a huge moral issue in which the church should speak to and teach about, not from the place of an agenda against homosexual or gay people, but from a perspective of standing on the moral absolute truth of God that He created us for a certain design and a certain order," Davis said. "This is not about people. This is spiritual warfare."