The measure -- which came in response to a state Supreme Court ruling that gays are entitled to the benefits of marriage -- passed both houses by strong majorities only 10 days after it was introduced, The New York Times reported. Gov. Jon Corzine is expected to sign the bill, although he has promised a careful review first.
Both advocates and opponents of gay marriage criticized the bill. Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, said the group will hold a rally the day the law takes effect to call for full marriage rights.
Some Republican senators tried and failed to amend the bill to define marriage as limited to heterosexual couples.
The Supreme Court ruled 4-3 that the state constitution requires equal rights for gay couples. But only three justices said that what must be allowed is marriage.
Backers of gay marriage said they remain hopeful that New Jersey might join Massachusetts in legalizing same-sex marriage.
"The distance between nothing and civil unions is greater than the distance between civil unions and marriage," Democratic Assemblyman Reed Gusciora said during the debate.
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