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When Grant was in a life-threatening automobile accident and rushed to a New York hospital in 2010 — before that state legalized gay marriage — Weiss said he couldn’t authorize badly needed surgery or even go through his partner’s wallet to find his health insurance card. He said their civil union was essentially worthless; Grant’s neurosurgeon even asked, “What is a civil union?”

A gay marriage bill was defeated in the Senate two years ago, just before Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat who supported the measure, left office. Advocates’ hopes dimmed with the arrival of Christie, who spoke against gay marriage when asked about it during his campaign.

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Associated Press correspondent Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Wash., contributed to this report.