TRENTON, NJ (AP / WCBS 880) – New Jersey Democrats have identified legalizing gay marriage as their top priority for the legislative session that starts Tuesday.

WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman On The Story

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The bill failed in the Senate two years ago.

“The world has changed since the New Jersey legislature last voted on marriage equality,” Garden State Equality chairman Steven Goldstein told WCBS 880 reporter Alex Silverman on Monday.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney, who didn’t vote for it then and has regretted it since, is now sponsoring the measure.

“I made a mistake but I can tell you I’m going to fix that,” Sweeney said. “We allowed religious communities to make this about religion, it is not, it is about civil rights — plain and simple. Everyone is entitled to civil rights.”

“Sweeney has become our greatest champion in Trenton, and we embrace the support,” Goldstein said.

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Democratic leaders in the Senate and Assembly will announce the bill’s reintroduction Monday.

Reed Gusciora is sponsoring it in the Assembly.

“I think we’re going to reach out not only to members on our side of the aisle, but persons particularly across the aisle,” he told Silverman.

Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, has said he’s no fan of same-sex marriage. But Goldstein says he wants to see the bill approved and sent to the governor, even if Christie’s unlikely to sign it.

“We’re realistic. We think the governor will veto it,” said Goldstein.

Democrats don’t enjoy veto-proof majorities in either house. So Christie could ignore the bill if it reaches his desk, which would allow it to become law without his signature.

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