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As NJ vetoes gay marriage bill, Maryland's advances

Gay marriage a “profoundly significant societal change” only voters can approve, NJ guv says.

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) listen during a rally on January 8, 2012, in Exeter, New Hampshire. Christie vetoed a same-sex marriage bill in New Jersey on Feb. 17, 2012. (Justin Sullivan/AFP/Getty Images)

Calling gay marriage a “profoundly significant societal change” only voters can approve, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed New Jersey’s same-sex marriage bill as expected today. At the same time in Maryland, the House of Delegates advanced similar legislation there. 

The New Jersey state assembly passed the bill on Thursday, but Christie promised an immediate veto. He’s suggested putting the issue on a ballot for voters and improvements to the state’s civil union law instead.

“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 a statement, the Associated Press reported.

In Maryland, that state's legislation survived by a narrow 72-67 vote, the Washington Post said.

“We should extend to families, same-sex loving couples, the right to marry in a civil ceremony,” said Del. Maggie L. McIntosh (D-Baltimore), one of seven gay delegates. “I’m going to ask you today, my colleagues, to make history.”

In New Jersey, Christie called his move a “conditional veto,” Reuters reported.

The Republican governor suggested instead an ombudsman’s position to address claims that New Jersey’s civil union laws aren’t working.

“The ombudsman will be charged with increasing awareness of the law regarding civil unions, will provide a clear point of contact for those who have questions or concerns and will be required to report any evidence of the law being violated. In this way, we can ensure equal treatment under the law," Christie said.

Democrats pushing for the bill will now attempt an override. They need two-thirds majority in the Senate and the Assembly, but appear just a few votes short.

In the Senate, Democrats enjoy a 24-16 advantage, but need 27 votes. In the Assembly, they have a 48-32 margin and need 54 votes.

The bill passed earlier this week 24-16 and 42-33, respectively, Bloomberg reported. 

The session ends in two years.

More from GlobalPost: New Jersey assembly passes gay marriage bill

Reed Gusciora, who sponsored the bill, said New Jersey Democrats would continue their push to join seven others states with same-sex marriage legislation.

“It’s unfortunate that the governor would let his own personal ideology infringe on the rights of thousands of New Jerseyans,” Gusciora, one of two openly gay New Jersey lawmakers, told the AP. “For all those who oppose marriage equality, their lives would have been completely unchanged by this bill, but for same-sex couples, their lives would have been radically transformed. Unfortunately, the governor couldn't see past his own personal ambitions to honor this truth.”

Washington State, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage now.

While Maryland is close to becoming the eighth state, it's not a certainty.

Gov. Martin O'Malley said he will sign the bill into law, but the Post said opponents may force the issue to a November vote.

“Same-sex marriage is wrong,” said Del. Emmett C. Burns Jr. (D-Baltimore County). “I believe that people who are gay have a right to be that, but the word ‘marriage’ should not be attached.”

More from GlobalPost: Washington State governor signs gay marriage bill into law 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120217/nj-gov-chris-christie-vetoes-gay-marriage-bill-e