New Jersey Gay Marriage Bill Nearing Chris Christie Veto

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Photo: Jeff Zelevansky/2011 Getty Images

As threatened, the New Jersey Senate has approved the advancement of a marriage equality bill today despite Governor Chris Christie's promise to veto the law. The State Senate voted 24-16 in favor of sending the bill to the State Assembly, which will likely pass the legislation on Thursday. In 2010, a similar bill that would allow gay couples to marry was defeated in the Senate by a count of 20-14.

New Jersey currently allows civil unions, and Republican governor Chris Christie said last month that he will veto the new bill, preferring a public referendum that leaves him out of it. "I think this is not an issue that should rest solely in my hands, or the hands of the Senate President or the Speaker or the other 118 members of the Legislature," Christie said. "Let's let the people of New Jersey decide what is right for the state." Polls say registered New Jersey voters support gay marriage, yet others, like Newark mayor Cory Booker, see it as a civil rights issue.

"I shudder to think what would have happened if the civil rights gains, heroically established by courageous lawmakers in the 1960s, were instead conveniently left up to popular votes in our 50 states," Booker said.

A two-thirds vote in each chamber can override a Christie veto, and would be needed by January 2014.