New Jersey: Senate approves gay marriage bill

New Jersey lawmakers in the state Senate passed a bill legalizing gay marriage for the first time Monday, despite Gov. Chris Christie’s insistence that he will veto such legislation.

The Senate’s 24-16 vote sends the bill to the Assembly, which is expected to pass it on Thursday.

Six states and Washington, D.C., allow gay marriage, and Washington state will be added to that list when Gov. Christine Gregoire signs legislation legalizing same-sex marriage Monday.

Christie, a Republican, has said he does not believe marriage laws should be changed but does support New Jersey’s civil union law, which grants gay couples the legal protections of marriage.

Christie said he wants to put a change in the definition of marriage to a public vote.  But gay rights groups oppose a referendum. They see gay marriage as a civil rights matter and argue that it should not be up to the masses to protect the rights of a minority group.

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