In his first comments on why he's intervened to defend against a lawsuit to win gay marriage in New Jersey, Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll says gay relationships are of no “societal consequence.”

Carroll, along with Republican Senators Gerald Cardinale and Anthony R. Bucco, are being represented by the Christian-based group Alliance Defense Fund (ADF).

The three men have united against a legal challenge by Lambda Legal filed earlier in the month.

The gay rights group pledged to return to court the day after New Jersey senators killed a gay marriage bill in January. The defeat means that the Legislature isn't likely to revisit the issue over the next four years as Governor Chris Christie, a Republican who took the helm in January, does not support giving gay couples the right to marry.

In 2006, the state Supreme Court unanimously agreed that it is unconstitutional to deny gay and lesbian couples the rights granted to married heterosexual couples and ordered the Legislature to remedy the situation. Lawmakers responded with a civil unions law.

Lambda Legal is representing six gay and lesbian couples plus the surviving spouse from a seventh in its challenge that claims civil unions are not equal to marriage.

The fifty-one-year-old Republican told On Top Magazine that ADF representatives approached him to enter the lawsuit. He said he agreed to become a defendant because “such decisions ought to be made by the people, either directly or through their elected representatives, not by unelected judges.”

When asked if he would support a gay marriage bill if one came to the Assembly floor, Carroll said he wouldn't .

“I see no purpose in extending a societal imprimatur – and not insubstantial benefits – to folks whose relationships are of essentially no societal consequence,” Carroll said, then added, “Taxpayers should not be in the business of subsidizing friendships, however close.”

Heterosexual relationships, according to Carroll, because they involve children are the exception.

“Only when people enter into a relationship which presumptively involves the bearing and rearing of children does society have an interest in that relationship,” he said.

Approximately 4,200 gay and lesbian couples have entered into civil unions since the institution was introduced in New Jersey.