A bill that would legalize gay marriage in New Jersey is expected to be introduced next week, the AP reported.

According to the report, Democrats have vowed to make marriage equality a priority.

While both houses of the New Jersey Legislature are controlled by Democrats, Republican Governor Chris Christie has already said he would veto any such bill.

Gay marriage supporters returned to court after a 2010 effort to approve the legislation fizzed in the Senate. New Jersey currently recognizes gay and lesbian couples with civil unions, but marriage supporters insist the law is flawed.

“The world has changed since 2009 when the bill last came up,” said Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, the state's largest group lobbying for a change in the marriage law. “I don't think anyone has seen a civil rights movement accelerate so quickly.”

A draft of the bill would exempt clergy and religious institutions from participating in a same-sex ceremony.

Democrats have said they believe they have the votes to secure passage. But without Christie's signature or GOP support, the bill is likely to die on the governor's desk.

New Jersey is the third state behind Maryland and Washington to announce the introduction of a gay marriage bill during the upcoming 2012 legislative session.