By Monica Herrera
NEW YORK (Billboard) - Bruce Springsteen has come out in support of gay marriage in his home state of New Jersey, where a marriage equality bill will go to vote this week. The rocker released a statement via his official Web site Wednesday backing the legislation.
"Like many of you who live in New Jersey, I've been following the progress of the marriage-equality legislation currently being considered in Trenton," Springsteen wrote. "I've long believed in and have always spoken out for the rights of same-sex couples and fully agree with Governor Corzine when he writes that 'the marriage-equality issue should be recognized for what it truly is -- a civil rights issue that must be approved to assure that every citizen is treated equally under the law.' I couldn't agree more with that statement and urge those who support equal treatment for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to let their voices be heard now."
New Jersey's State Senate will vote on the marriage equality bill Thursday, after a Senate panel voted 7-6 on Monday to bring the bill to a full vote. Though it's unclear whether the bill has the 21 votes it will need for passage, gay rights advocates are eager for legislation to be approved by January, when Republican governor-elect Christopher J. Christie assumes Gov. Jon Corzine's place in office. Christie has said he would veto a bill supporting gay marriage.
A longtime Springsteen fan, Christie recently invited the Boss to perform at a benefit concert during the lead-up to his inauguration. His invitation was declined, the New York Times reported, and the Springsteen tribute band the B Street Band perform instead.
On Sunday, Springsteen was feted at the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C., where President Barack Obama called him "the quiet kid from Jersey ... who grew up to become the rock 'n' roll laureate of a generation."