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Gov. Christie: I'm with Obama on gay marriage

Gov. Chris Christie, R-NJ., joins Morning Joe to discuss Wednesday night's GOP debate in Arizona, why he thinks Rick Santorum had an "awful night" at the debate, and why he vetoed a bill allowing same-sex marriage in New Jersey.

Following his veto of a bill allowing gay marriage in his state, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie accused Democrats of playing politics with the issue and said his stance is no different than President Obama's.

"I have the exact same position as the president … The Democrats in my state are criticizing me, saying my feet are firmly planted on the wrong side of justice. I said yesterday, 'Yeah, my feet are firmly planted right next to President Obama." And they don’t criticize him," Christie said on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe."

Christie defended his view that voters should be the ones who decide what defines marriage in his state.


"Even though it’s against my belief on this, I’m willing to be governed on it [by the voters]," Christie said.

Last Friday, Christie vetoed a bill that would have allowed gay marriage in the state. The Republican governor accompanied his veto with a call for lawmakers to appoint an advocate for same-sex couples under the state's existing civil union law.

Obama, on the other hand, has been coy on the subject of gay marriage, Christie insisted. Obama has supported strengthening civil unions, just as he has, but hasn’t gone further than that, Christie said.

"The president has hidden on this issue," Christie told MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. "The president opposes same-sex marriage."

Harold Ford, Jr., a former Democratic congressman, also on the show, pointed out that Obama applauded New York’s decision to approve gay marriage.

"So he applauds other people’s courage, but doesn’t have any of his own," Christie shot back.

Christie reiterated that he would respect the people’s will if the measure passed in a statewide referendum.

"You need three-fifths of the state Legislature to get it on the ballot, and I’ve called on every Republican to vote yes, to put it on the ballot," he said.

"Morning Joe" contributor Jonathan Capehart, an openly gay Washington Post columnist, confronted Christie.

"I heard you say that you have your feet firmly planted next to President Obama on this issue, but the key difference between you and the president is that while you support putting the civil rights of that minority up for a public referendum, the president is not in favor of that," Capehart said.

"Has he said that, Jonathan? … Have you heard him say it?" asked Christie. "He’s silent on this issue like he is on every issue that is difficult for him."

This article includes reporting by msnbc.com's Elizabeth Chuck and Reuters.

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