A bill that would make New Jersey the seventh state to legalize gay marriage cleared a Senate panel on Tuesday.

The Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee approved and forwarded the measure to the full Senate on an 8 to 4 party-line vote.

As the committee heard testimony from supporters and opponents, Governor Chris Christie reiterated his opposition to gay marriage, called on lawmakers to put the question before voters and pledged to veto the bill if it reached his desk.

In recent remarks, Christie appeared to be softening his stance on the issue, declining to say whether he planned to sign the legislation, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature.

“Let the people of New Jersey decide what is right for the state,” he said.

Last week, Senator Raymond Lesniak, the measure's primary sponsor in the Senate, said the bill could have sufficient support to override a veto from Christie.

Lesniak told The Wall Street Journal that he estimates there are between 24 and 27 votes in the Senate in favor of marriage equality, four of which are Republicans. Twenty-seven votes are needed to override a governor's veto.

“I'm wishing and hoping,” Lesniak told the paper.