Civil unions in New Jersey have are a “second-class” form of marriage for gays and lesbians, an official report has found.

The Associated Press, have obtained a copy of the report (due to be published on Tuesday) that finds that couples in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is legal does not experience the legal complications associated with New Jersey.

In Britain, civil partnerships have equal status with marriage, the only discernible difference being that as it is a civil ceremony, they can not take place in a religious institution, although a blessing can be held there after (with the consent of the relevant cleric).

Civil unions were adopted in 2006, the third state to do so, after a Supreme Court ruling found that gay couples should be entitled to the same protections as married couples.

The commission heard that gay couples were still not being treated on an equal footing by government bodies, employers and other organisations. Companies with insurance schemes regulated by federal laws, for example are entitled to refuse to offer benefits to gay spouses but must offer them to straight spouses.

State Governor Jon S Corzine said if the state legislator votes to allow gay marriage he will sign a bill, but only after the presidential elections to be held in November.