Trenton will be packed with emotion this week as both houses of the Legislature are expected to pass a gay marriage bill, but leaders on both sides of the issue concede it will kick off a long political standoff between Republican Gov. Chris Christie and Democrats.

Christie has pledged to veto the bill, and Democrats say they’re unlikely to quickly muster the two-thirds majorities needed to override him. Democrats also will ignore Christie’s proposal to instead put gay marriage up to voters in a November referendum.

Gay marriage opponents say such a stalemate will put New Jersey’s 10-year debate on ice for a long time. Supporters, however, will treat a vote by both houses as an important milestone in a fight they will continue to wage.

“I don’t think there’s one civil rights leader in the South who thought ending segregation would be a slam dunk on the first time out,” said Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), New Jersey’s first openly gay lawmaker.

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