Same-Sex Marriage Begins in New Jersey after Gov. Christie Drops Legal Challenge
New Jersey’s Republican governor dropped the state’s legal challenge against gay marriage as same-sex couples began marrying in the Garden State just after midnight on Monday.
New Jersey became the 14th US state to achieve LGBT marriage equality on Monday, as gay couples began tying the knot in the wake of a unanimous state Supreme Court ruling that rejected a legal challenge by Gov. Chris Christie. The governor had sought to block a lower court’s order approving same-sex marriage.
While he said he “strongly disagrees” with the high court’s decision, Christie said it “left no ambiguity” and that he would “do his constitutional duty” and allow same-sex marriages to proceed.
Newark mayor and US Senator-elect Cory Booker presided over seven same-sex weddings at Newark city hall, including that of Joseph Panessidi and Orville Bell, both 65, who were the first couple to wed.
“It’s officially past midnight, marriage is now equal in New Jersey,” Booker declared as many of the people gathered at City Hall applauded and cheered.
“While you have all fallen into love, I want to say the truth is, that the state of New Jersey has risen to love,” Booker told the couples and crowd. “This state now is resonant with the core values of our country, the idea that there is no second-class citizenship in America.”
As is legally required in New Jersey, Booker asked if anyone objected to Panessidi and Bell’s marriage. One protester shouted that gay marriage is “unlawful in the eyes of God and Jesus Christ” and was removed from the venue.
After “not hearing any substantive and worthy objections,” Booker proceeded to marry the couple.
“We’re in our sixties, which means we’ve seen tremendous history of monumental events,” Bell told the Associated Press. “This is one of those monumental events, that I can be here today and say I’m married to another man.”
“I’m just overwhelmed, it’s a dream come true,” 37-year-old Alexander Padilla, who married 36-year-old Anthony Arenas, told the New York Daily News.
Mayors in other municipalities across the state also opened town and city halls on Sunday night and Monday morning to perform marriage ceremonies.
In Lambertville, Beth Asaro married Joanne Schailey, her partner of 27 years.
“We’re floating on air,” Asaro told the AP.
“It’s like winning the Super Bowl,” added Schailey.
In Newark, two heterosexual couples also married early Monday morning. Booker had refused to perform any marriages until same-sex weddings were approved.
“I made a decision as mayor,” he said, “that I would not marry anybody until I could marry everybody. I’m so happy I did this, and I did it in the right way.”