TRENTON, New Jersey, February 20, 2012 ( – New Jersey governor Chris Christie vetoed a gay “marriage” bill hours after it passed the legislature on Friday, saying that the issue should be offered to voters in a referendum to decide.

“I am adhering to what I’ve said since this bill was first introduced – an issue of this magnitude and importance, which requires a constitutional amendment, should be left to the people of New Jersey to decide,” Christie said in his statement accompanying the veto.

The Senate had passed a measure redefining marriage on Monday 24-16, before the Assembly voted 42-33 on Thursday.


Christie emphasized that he has been “just as adamant that same-sex couples in a civil union deserve the very same rights and benefits enjoyed by married couples – as well as the strict enforcement of those rights and benefits.” Therefore, he said, the “conditional veto” would include the creation of an “Ombudsman for Civil Unions” to increase awareness of and compliance with the civil union law.

Garden State Equality Chair Steven Goldstein said prior to the veto that, because of his personal relationship with Christie, he knew that the governor doesn’t have “an anti-gay bone in his body,” but that the impending veto was nonetheless “a brutally anti-gay act” that his group would immediately work to override.

Brian McGovern of the conservative Save Jersey blog wrote that an override would be unlikely “any time soon” given the current vote count. But gay lobbyists have ample time to pressure lawmakers to change their vote before time expires, since the legislative session will not end until January 2014.

Gregory Quinlan, director of government affairs for New Jersey Family First, thanked the governor for keeping his promise to veto the new marriage definition.

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Christie, long an advocate of government benefits and protections for homosexual couples, made headlines last month for selecting the state’s first openly homosexual Supreme Court judge, Bruce A. Harris. Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage raised concern over the appointment, pointing to a letter authored by Harris in 2009 supporting same-sex “marriage.”

Christie reportedly told media that Harris, a Republican mayor, had promised to recuse himself in the event of a marriage battle reaching the court.

Last week Gov. Christine Gregoire of Washington signed a measure making that state the sixth to recognize gay “marriage,” plus the District of Columbia.