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The unexpected rejection is also expected to give opponents of same-sex marriage another opportunity to turn back the legislation, with the emphasis on urging the governor to stick by his veto statement.

“Unless the governor goes back on his word again, which didn’t go over well the first time, I don’t see how he can justify not vetoing this,” Mr. Smith said.

Advocates will have to wait at least a couple of weeks for the legislature’s next move. The House isn’t scheduled to meet again until June 4, with the legislature slated to adjourn at the end of June.

Four New England states - Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Maine - have legalized same-sex marriage, with all but Massachusetts approving it this year. A fifth state, Iowa, saw gay marriage legalized in March after the state Supreme Court ruled that the traditional definition of marriage violated the state’s equal-protection clause.