New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has issued a conditional veto of a bill extending marriage rights to gays and lesbians in the state, the Associated Press reports. “I have been just as adamant that same-sex couples in a civil union deserve the very same rights and benefits enjoyed by married couples – as well as the strict enforcement of those rights and benefits,” Christie said in his statement. “To that end, I include in my conditional veto the creation of a strong Ombudsman for Civil Unions to carry on New Jersey’s strong tradition of tolerance and fairness. 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.”
The legislature now has two years or until January 2014 to try and override his veto. On Thursday, the Assembly passed the bill in a vote of 42-33, falling 12 votes short shy of a two-thirds majority. The Senate was three votes short in its vote on Monday.
Democrats would have to vote to approve Christie’s offer of an Ombudsman and Assembly Majority Louis Greenwald has released the following statement: “Thousands and thousands of New Jersey families are denied financial security, health security and fundamental equal rights every day because of a failed civil union experiment. And yet in spite of their second-class citizenship, the governor single-handedly – -through the stroke of his pen – seeks to codify discrimination against them…He has just violated his own oath of office. And in the end, he will answer to every New Jersey citizen for his actions.”