Two months after same-sex couples began marrying in New Jersey, a Senate panel is preparing to consider a bill legalizing gay marriage in the state.

“Marriage equality is not the law of the land in New Jersey. Civil union is still the law,” Democratic Senator Raymond Lesniak told The Inquirer.

Lesniak introduced the bill last week with Senator Loretta Weinberg, also a Democrat. The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to consider the bill on Monday.

New Jersey became the 14th state to allow gay couples to marry following a September 27 Superior Court decision ordering the state to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples as of October 21.

Republican Governor Chris Christie appealed the ruling to the New Jersey Supreme Court but withdrew from the fight after the court sided with the lower court order in refusing to delay implementation of its order.

Lesniak said a law was needed to protect the ruling from future litigation.

Weinberg said that the bill also ties up loose ends, such as recognizing out-of-state same-sex marriages, eliminating civil unions, and providing for a transition from civil union to marriage.

Last year, Christie vetoed a marriage equality law approved by lawmakers, arguing that voters should decide the issue.

Gay rights advocates expressed concerns over the proposed legislation.

Hayley Gorenberg, an attorney for Lambda Legal who worked on the marriage case, called the possibility of a court reversal “a creature of the imagination.”

Troy Stevenson, executive director of Garden State Equality, New Jersey's largest LGBT rights advocate, expressed concern about an exemption in the bill which would allow religious groups that restrict their event space to members to turn away gay couples who wish to marry there.

“I don't think our organization can get behind something that has a religious exception,” Stevenson said.

However, the proposed bill has narrower religious exemptions than those found in the bill approved last year.