SHOW OF SUPPORT: Backers wave as the bill is debated by the New Jersey Assembly. The state Supreme Court ruled that gay couples are guaranteed the benefits of marriage but let legislators decide whether to call it marriage.

Supporters wave from the gallery as the civil unions bill is debated in the <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PLGEO100100700000000" title="New Jersey" href="/topic/us/new-jersey-PLGEO100100700000000.topic">New Jersey</a> Assembly Thursday, Dec. 14, 2006 in Trenton, N.J. Under pressure from New Jersey's highest court to offer marriage or its equivalent to gay couples, the state Assembly approved a bill Thursday to create civil unions.

( AP Photo/Mel Evans / December 14, 2006 )

Supporters wave from the gallery as the civil unions bill is debated in the New Jersey Assembly Thursday, Dec. 14, 2006 in Trenton, N.J. Under pressure from New Jersey's highest court to offer marriage or its equivalent to gay couples, the state Assembly approved a bill Thursday to create civil unions.

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