Republican Governor Chris Christie on Friday vetoed a bill to make New Jersey the latest US state to legalize gay marriage, but hours later a similar measure advanced by a razor-thin margin in Maryland and appeared destined to become law.
Christie, a rising star in the US Republican Party, accompanied his veto with a call for lawmakers in the state capital Trenton to appoint an advocate for same-sex couples under the state's existing civil union law.
The Democratic-controlled New Jersey legislature does not appear to have the votes to override Christie's veto.
In Maryland's capital Annapolis, the House of Delegates voted 71 to 67 to approve legislation to allow gay marriage, prompting cheers from a packed chamber gallery after two hours of often impassioned debate. The bill heads to the state Senate, which last year approved similar legislation and is widely expected to do so again.
Maryland Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley supports gay marriage and would sign the bill into law.