Evan Wolfson, founder and executive director of Freedom to Marry, and Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), debated New Jersey's effort to legalize gay marriage.

The men appeared Sunday on New York City ABC affiliate WABC's Up Close with Diana Williams.

The segment began with discussion of Governor Chris Christie's suggestion that lawmakers put the issue up for a vote.

“In New Jersey there is no direct initiative in referendum,” Brown said. “So the people can't just gather signatures and then put this to a vote. That's part of the reason why proponents of same-sex marriage are focusing on states like New Jersey.”

“This was really kind of a non-starter. It was basically Governor Christie's way of getting this off his desk, getting this away from him,” Wolfson said.

Brown accused Wolfson of not wanting a vote because his side would lose.

“Here in the United States we actually believe there are basic rights, basic freedoms that are protected for everybody under the Constitution. And it's exactly what we don't do is have a big debate about whether you should have freedom of religion, or whether I should have freedom of speech, or whether you should have the freedom to marry. We're all Americans. We're all entitled to basic rights and protections. And we don't put that to an up or down vote,” Wolfson said.

Citing a survey that shows a narrow majority (52%) of New Jersey voters support marriage equality, host Diana Williams asked why not put it up for a vote.

“The people have voted,” Wolfson answered. “The people elected legislators to do their job.”

Wolfson also criticized Brown's assertion that supporters do not have the right to redefine marriage.

“When gay people share in the freedom to marry it doesn't change your marriage, it doesn't change your marriage, it doesn't change my marriage,” he said, referring to Brown, Williams and himself. “Gay people are participating because we're in love, we're in committed relationships dreaming of a life together with somebody, building a life, doing the work of marriage. It's not about redefining. Marriage is not defined by who's denied it. Marriage is defined by commitment and love respected under the law.” (The video is embedded in the right panel of this page. Visit our video library for more videos.)

New Jersey lawmakers will vote on whether to make New Jersey the seventh state to legalize gay marriage next week.