Should the State Legislature and the Governor decide if gay marriage should be legal in New Jersey or should the people of the Garden State make that decision?

The State Senate President says it's the legislature's responsibility, but the Governor says the question should be put to the voters on this November's ballot. The disagreement has both men ratcheting up the rhetoric and neither is mincing words.

Senate President Steve Sweeney insists that no legislation to hold a matter of civil rights hostage to the whims of a political campaign will ever be posted. He calls Governor Chris Christie's suggestion a "cowardly display of national political ambition gone haywire."

"Let's stop hiding behind this, 'We don't put civil rights on the ballot thing,'" responds Christie. "Please, these folks (Democrats) would put anything on the ballot if they thought they could win. They trot around polling that says a majority of the people in New Jersey want gay marriage. Well, okay. If a majority of the people in New Jersey want gay marriage, then put it on the ballot and prove it….Steve Sweeney said yesterday, 'We don't want to wait.' Well guess what? You're going to wait anyway because I'm vetoing the bill."

Sweeney claims, "There's only one reason for the governor to abandon his moral compass so quickly, and that's to bulk up his conservative bona fides in a transparent audition for a Mitt Romney-Chris Christie ticket, plain and simple." Then channeling his inner Sarah Palin, he said, "What a sad rookie mistake."

Christie says, "We all know how this movie's going to end. If they pass the bill, and they know this, if they pass the bill it's going to be vetoed. If they attempt to override the veto, the veto will be sustained."

The Governor says he's trying to provide a different movie by calling for the ballot question, but adds, "No one should misinterpret it as any change in position. If it comes to my desk I will veto it. If it gets on the ballot I will vote no."

Sweeney says Christie's assertion that marriage equality, "is too serious to be treated like a political football" would be laughable if it weren't so incredulous. Sweeney notes that in California, campaign spending on that state's same-sex marriage ballot referendum reached a reported $83 million.

"To say that a matter of civil rights should be subject to a political campaign is not only a cowardly abdication of leadership, but a slap in the face to those whose rights are being trampled," says Sweeney. "It's an embarrassing display of political greed. It is shameful for the governor to use his office to bully members of his party into abandoning their consciences in the name of his own political ambition."