The Assembly Judiciary Committee will meet Thursday at 10am to consider legislation to legalize same-sex in New Jersey. The Marriage Equality and Religious Exemption Act would eliminate the civil unions that have been in place since 2007. Many gay marriage advocates claim that civil unions have not provided equal treatment to New Jersey’s same-sex couples.

The bill would also provide that no clergy of any religion authorized to solemnize marriage nor  religious society, institution or organization in the state would be required to conduct any marriage in violation of their free exercise of religion.

“The creation of civil unions has produced a separate-but-equal system, and as we know from our history classes, separate-but-equal is as unconstitutional as it is inherently unequal,” says bill sponsor Assembly Reed Gusciora. “This law would make a significant difference in providing equality to same-sex New Jersey couples and their children.”

Six states and the District of Columbia, together comprising 35 million Americans, currently allow same-sex couples to marry.