BY GEOFF MULVIHILL, ASSOCIATED PRESS
TRENTON, N.J. -- New Jersey lawmakers gave their blessing to legalizing gay marriage for the first time Monday as the state Senate passed a bill that would allow nuptials for same-sex couples, despite Gov. Chris Christie's insistence that he will veto such legislation.
The Senate's 24-16 vote sends the bill to the Assembly, which is expected to pass it on Thursday.
Monday's vote contrasts with the only other gay-marriage vote taken in the Legislature. In January 2010, gay marriage supporters thought they had built a narrow majority in the Senate, but senators began to defect, and the measure was defeated 20-14. Since then, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a Democrat from West Deptford, has changed his position. He says he regrets abstaining two years ago and has made gay marriage recognition a top priority.