New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie followed through on his word, vetoing a gay marriage bill passed by the state’s legislature Thursday.
“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.
Christie is urging the legislature to put the measure on the ballot in the form of a referendum.
“ This is the only path to amend our State Constitution and the best way to resolve the issue of same-sex marriage in our state,” he said.
Democrats were not surprised at the veto, which Christie has followed since last month when he announced his intentions at a town hall meeting.
Senate President, Stephen Sweeney, a Democrat, denounced the governor’s veto and vowed to work to override it.
“Governor Christie's veto is a shameful act hidden behind the guise of a public referendum. Today, he firmly planted his feet on the wrong side of history,” he said in a statement. “He had a chance to do the right thing, and failed miserably.”
New Jersey lawmakers now have until Jan. 2014 to muster up enough votes to override the governor’s veto.
The work will lie in try to assemble a two-thirds majority in each chamber needed to override Christie.
On Thursday, the Democratic-controlled Assembly voted 42-33 in favor of gay marriage, making the state the eighth to do so.
That vote came after emotional speeches from both sides on Thursday.
Seven states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage, and a gay-marriage bill in Maryland advanced to the House of Delegates floor Tuesday, with a vote expected Friday. Gov. Martin O’Malley supports the law, but it is unclear whether it will get the 71 votes it needs to pass. The bill has support from both parties, but the issue has divided state lawmakers along religious and racial lines, with some Christians and blacks opposing the measure.
A similar measure passed in the state Senate last year, but failed to clear the house. Opponents of the bill have announced plans to hold a referendum in November if it passes.