New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie followed through on his word Friday, vetoing a gay marriage bill passed by the state’s legislature a day earlier.
“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 by the veto. Christie, a Republican, announced his intentions last month at a town hall meeting.
Yet Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a Democrat, denounced the governor’s action 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 a two-thirds majority vote in each chamber to override the governor’s veto.
Gay marriage supporters need three more votes in the Senate to override the veto. Senate Democrats passed the bill 24-16. The Assembly, which passed the bill 42-33, needs needs 14 more votes for a veto override.
On Thursday, the Democratic-controlled Assembly voted 42-33 in favor of gay marriage.
That vote came after emotional speeches from both sides on Thursday.
Seven states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage.