The New Jersey Assembly passed a bill lifting the ban on gay marriages yesterday, but the bill looks likely to be vetoed by the state governor.

The vote was 42-33 in favour of marriage equality but the Republican governor has said he wants a public vote on the matter.

New Jersey’s senate voted 24 to 16 in favour of giving equal marriage rights to gay couples earlier this week.

Bills can be made veto-proof in the New Jersey legislature, but have to be passed by 27 state senators and 57 representatives in the General Assembly.

All the votes in favour came from the 47 Democrat lawmakers in the Assembly. Four voted against and one was not present.

Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver said: “Without question this is a historic day in the state of New Jersey.

She said the vote was “what citizens sent us here to do: to deliberate, to use the legislative process to represent the interests of all New Jerseyans.”

The move was welcomed by many as hailing progress towards equality by the legislature, even if the bill’s future is in question.

Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry, said: “Today’s win in New Jersey is a joyous advance for committed gay and lesbian couples in the Garden State, for their families, and for the entire community.

“In 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously held that the constitution’s command of equality meant that the protections and responsibilities of marriage could no longer be denied to gay couples. After experimenting with a separate civil union mechanism, today the Legislature took note that marriage matters, and equal means equal, and voted in favor of the freedom to marry.

“Sadly, Governor Chris Christie has planted his feet on the wrong side of history, and the wrong side of the majority for marriage in New Jersey and nationwide. If the governor sticks with his threat of a veto, Freedom to Marry will work throughout the entire remainder of the legislative session, supporting local families, leaders, and advocates as they make the case and win the extra handful of votes needed to override the veto and do right by these families.

“We would not be here without the powerful leadership of Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg; and our partners and colleagues at Garden State Equality, led by Steven Goldstein, who have all worked tirelessly to end marriage discrimination in New Jersey.”

Washington’s state legislature approved equal marriage this month with the law expected to be implemented in June.