Governor Chris Christie followed through on his threat to reject a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in New Jersey. He vetoed the bill Friday, hours after it had been delivered to his desk.
The Republican governor returned the bill to the Legislature, saying he wants voters to decide whether New Jersey changes the definition of marriage.
"An issue of this magnitude and importance, which requires a constitutional amendment, should be left to the people of New Jersey to decide. I continue to encourage the Legislature to trust the people of New Jersey and seek their input by allowing our citizens to vote on a question that represents a profoundly significant societal change," Christie said.
Christie said that same-sex couples in a civil union deserve the same rights and benefits enjoyed by married couples, and proposed the creation of an Ombudsman for Civil Unions in his conditional veto message.
Assembly spokesman Tom Hester said the bill was delivered to Christie's office by the Assembly clerk's office Friday morning, a day after the chamber approved it 42-33. The Senate passed the gay marriage proposal on Monday.
Christie is a Republican who opposes gay marriage. He has vowed "very swift action" once the bill reached his desk.
He and most Republican lawmakers want the issue decided by public vote.
Democrats maintain that gay marriage is a civil right protected by the Constitution and isn't subject to popular vote.
Six states and Washington, D.C., allow gay marriage. Washington state's new gay marriage law is set to go into effect in June.
READ THE CONDITIONAL VETO MESSAGE