Citing his support for traditional marriage, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty vetoed a bill Saturday that would have allowed gay couples to control the remains of a loved one.

The measure, known as the Final Wishes bill, called for the state to recognize gay and lesbian couples as domestic partners.

Under Minnesota law, only married surviving spouses can decide what to do with the remains of a loved one. The bill would have extended such rights to domestic partners. It would have also allowed a partner the right to sue to recover funeral and hospital costs in the event of a wrongful death.

In vetoing the bill, Pawlenty, a Republican, said the bill “addresses a nonexistent problem” because gay and lesbian couples have the option of drawing up a living will.

He also said he rejected the measure because domestic partners should not have the same rights as married spouses.

“Marriage – defined as between a man and woman – should remain elevated in our society at a special level, as it traditionally has been,” Pawlenty said. “I oppose efforts to treat domestic relationships as the equivalent of traditional marriage. Accordingly, I am opposed to this bill.”

Ann Kaner-Roth, executive director of Project 515, a group that lobbied for the bill, said “the governor's facts are wrong.”

“Project 515 is deeply disappointed in the governor's refusal to ensure an equal opportunity for same-sex couples to take care of their families in the darkest and most personal of times,” she said in a statement on the group's Facebook page.

“Same-sex couples can't sue for wrongful death and current law does not provide the same level of protection for a same-sex partner trying to carry out their deceased partner's final wishes,” she added.

Advocates also argue that married couples are not legally obligated to draw up a living will and the costs of legal documents presents an undue burden.