The governor of New Jersey has vetoed a bill passed by the state’s lawmakers that aimed to legalise same-sex marriage.

Governor Chris Christie had earlier promised to block The Marriage Equality and Religious Exemption Act bill and did just that a day after it was passed by the state Assembly.

Christie, who supports same-sex civil unions, says that he believes that same-sex marriage should only be approved through a referendum.

“I continue to encourage the legislature to trust the people of New Jersey and seek their input by allowing our citizens to vote on a question that represents a profoundly significant societal change,” said Christie in a statement.

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) pointed out that surveys already indicate that same-sex marriage is supported by a slim majority of New Jersey citizens.

“Governor Christie… is out of step with the majority of voters on this issue. We will not give up until marriage equality becomes a reality in New Jersey,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.

If the bill had not been vetoed by the governor, New Jersey would have become the eighth state in the U.S. to legalise same-sex marriage. The federal government does not, however, recognise these marriages.

In the same week that the New Jersey bill was blocked, the House of Delegates in Maryland approved marriage equality legislation introduced by that state’s Governor Martin O’Malley. It will next be voted on by the state’s Senate

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