A Senate Judiciary hearing is scheduled at 11 a.m. Tuesday to hear S1, the Marriage Equality and Religious Exemption Act, which aims to legalize gay marriage in New Jersey. Democratic legislators announced earlier this month that making gay marriage legal is one of their top legislative priorities.
The state currently allows gay couples to pursue civil unions. Gay rights advocates claim that civil unions create a separate but equal situation -- a civil review commission had found that couples in civil unions were not getting the same benefits that married couples were getting from employers and hospitals.
The bill would turn any current civil unions into marriages. The bill also has provisions for religious institutions to abstain from granting religious marriages if they violate their beliefs and teachings.
Republican Gov. Chris Christie hadn't confirmed that he would veto a gay marriage bill in an interview with New York radio station WCBS 880 recently, saying that he wasn't sure if there was enough votes to move the bill along and that final decision of the bill would need to be "deliberate" and "thoughtful."