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New Jersey senate votes to legalize same-sex marriage

TRENTON, N.J. — The New Jersey state Senate voted Monday to legalize same-sex marriage, a significant shift in support from two years ago, when a similar measure failed.

The legislation faces a vote Thursday in the state Assembly, but even if that chamber passes the measure, Gov. Chris Christie, who favors holding a referendum on the issue, has said he will veto it.

But advocates hailed the Senate vote as a huge advance, noting that they won 10 more votes than two years ago. And both supporters and opponents said they were surprised by the margin: The bill needed 21 votes to succeed and passed 24-16.

“The margin brought the notion of an override out of fantasyland,” said Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, a gay rights group. “Before today, I would have said the chances of an override were one in a million. Now I’d say it’s about 1 in 2.”

Overriding the anticipated veto would require the approval of two-thirds of both houses, which in the Senate translates to 27 votes. But Democrats, who have made the bill their top priority this year, argue that they have nearly two years — until the session ends on Jan. 14, 2014 — to muster just three more votes than they won Monday.

—Kate Zernike, The New York Times

In Toronto, celebrating the Knicks’ newest star

OTTAWA, Ontario — The Toronto Raptors’ Asian Heritage Nights are usually scheduled to coincide with Chinese New Year. This year’s event, which takes place Tuesday, will feature the New York Knicks. And the Taiwanese ancestry of the team’s unexpected success story, Jeremy Lin, has not escaped Chinese residents, who make up a little more than 11 percent of Toronto’s population.

Although the game is on Valentine’s Day, Beth Robertson, the senior vice president for ticket sales and services at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, expects that all 18,000 seats at Air Canada Centre will be sold. The team has only had two other sellouts in its 13 home games. Robertson gives Lin some of the credit for 3,000 tickets the Raptors have sold since Friday.

Clement Chu, the president of the Chinese Canadian Youth Athletics Association, which sold 300 discounted group tickets, said that Lin’s success had created “a buzz” in his organization’s basketball programs for children.

—Ian Austen, The New York Times

Sierra Club secretly accepted millions, angering some allies

The recent disclosure of the Sierra Club’s secret acceptance of $26 million in donations from people associated with a natural gas company has revived an uncomfortable debate among environmental groups about corporate donations and transparency.

The gifts from the company, Chesapeake Energy, have drawn criticism from some environmentalists. “Sleeping with the enemy” was a comment much forwarded on Twitter posts about the undisclosed arrangement.

“Runners shouldn’t smoke, priests shouldn’t touch the kids, and environmentalists should never take money from polluters,” John Passacantando, a former director of Greenpeace who is now an environmental consultant, said in an interview. Yet the donations to the Sierra Club, reported by Time Magazine’s Ecocentric blog and a blog called Corporate Crime Reporter, have plenty of precedents. Between 2004 and 2006, the National Audubon Society accepted $2.1 million from the chemical giant Monsanto to find a strategy for ensuring the safety of waterfowl near industrial farms using pesticides, for example.

—Felicity Barringer, The New York Times