A bill to legalize gay marriage has cleared the New Jersey state Senate Judiciary Committee, paving the way for a full Senate vote Thursday.

Monday night's committee vote was 7-6.

New Jersey is the best chance for proponents to add a sixth state allowing same-sex unions.

A similar measure was voted down last week in the New York state Senate. Last month, voters in Maine overturned a law that was enacted this year to allow same-sex weddings but never took effect.

Gay marriage is recognized in Massachusetts, Vermont,

Connecticut and Iowa. It becomes legal in New Hampshire in January.

Proponents want the New Jersey bill passed quickly because Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine (KOHR'-zyn) has said he'd sign it before leaving office.


How the Senate Judiciary Committee members voted:


Sen. Bill Baroni (R-Mercer) Sen. Nia H. Gill (D-Essex) Sen. Raymond J. Lesniak (D-Union) Sen. Nicholas P. Scutari (D-Union) Sen. Bob Smith (D-Middlesex) Sen. Brian P. Stack (D-Hudson) Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen)


Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen), chairman Sen. John A. Girgenti (D-Passaic) vice chair Sen. Christopher Bateman (R-Somerset) Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Bergen) Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth)