New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Monday withdrew legal opposition to gay marriage, making same-sex nuptials the law in the state.
The move makes New Jersey the 14th state in the nation to legalize gay marriage.
On Friday, the state Supreme Court refused to delay a lower-court order for the state to begin recognizing same-sex marriages. On Monday morning, Christie said in a statement that he ordered an appeal dropped.
“Chief Justice Rabner left no ambiguity about the unanimous court’s view on the ultimate decision in this matter when he wrote, ‘same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today,” Christie said.
“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.”
One second after midnight in Lambertville, a city of just under 4,000 people on the Delaware River, Beth Asaro and Joanne Schailey said “I do” in what they believed was the state’s first such ceremony. Their union before Mayor David DelVecchio was held in a municipal meeting hall.
“When I go to bed tonight I don’t have to worry about the living will or powers of attorney and do I have everything dotted and crossed,” Asaro, 53, a city councilwoman, told reporters after the vows. “I’m equal now. I’m not an exception on all the forms.”
At City Hall in Newark, the state’s most populous city, Cory Booker, the two-term Democratic mayor who voters elected to the U.S. Senate last week, officiated for seven gay and two heterosexual couples who descended a set of curving steps just before midnight. They were greeted in the marble rotunda by a crowd of about 200, many of whom said they wanted to see history made.
A protester briefly disrupted proceedings when he shouted that the unions were against God’s law. Police officers escorted him out. Booker went on to declare Joseph Panessidi, 65, a retired advertising executive, and Orville Bell, 65, a teacher, were “lawful spouses,” and the crowd clapped and whooped.