New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has withdrawn his administration’s appeal of a lower court’s ruling that the state must recognize marriages between people of the same sex. As a result, New Jersey is the 14th state in which gay marriage is legal. The withdrawal followed the state Supreme Court’s announcement last week that it would not delay a lower court’s order that authorities begin recognizing same-sex marriages beginning today. In a statement, Christie’s office explained that although the court had agreed to hear the case next year, arguments would be futile since the court had already made its views clear:
“Although the Governor strongly disagrees with the Court substituting its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches or a vote of the people, the Court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey Constitution and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law. The Governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his Administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court,” Christie’s office said in a statement Monday.
The state legislature, controlled by Democrats, passed legislation earlier this year to legalize gay marriage, but Christie vetoed that bill, arguing that voters should decide whether gay couples should be granted the right to legally marry in the state. Democrats had hinted they were getting closer to the number of votes they needed to override Christie’s veto in a special session later this year.
Meanwhile, couples around the state celebrated their weddings early Monday morning:
At Newark’s City Hall, where seven gay couples and two heterosexual couples were wed, there was a brief disruption from a protester who cried out, “This is unlawful in the eyes of God and Jesus Christ,” before Mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat elected last week to the U.S. Senate, declared Gabriela Celeiro and Liz Salerno “lawful spouses.” After the protester was removed, the mayor, choking up, paused, put his hand over his heart and said, “This is very beautiful.”
A few minutes before midnight Sunday in Jersey City, Mayor Steve Fulop gathered eight couples in the front of the city council chambers to conduct a swift mass ceremony.
“I never thought I’d see this in my lifetime,” said Barbara Milton after she was married to Kay Osborn. “To have this moment of equality is overwhelming.”
The newlyweds and their friends and family went into the City Hall rotunda after the ceremony for champagne and cake. As they posed for a photo with the mayor, someone yelled out, “Kiss!” and all eight couples did.
Christie is considered a possible candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.