October 18, 2013 | by Michael K. Lavers
New Jersey Supreme Court to allow same-sex marriages

Chris Christie, New Jersey, Republican Party, gay news, Washington Blade

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The New Jersey Supreme Court on Friday ruled same-sex marriages in the Garden State can begin on Oct. 21.

The unanimous 7-0 decision denied Gov. Chris Christie’s request to postpone Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson’s Sept. 27 ruling that found the state’s civil unions law prevents same-sex couples from obtaining federal marriage benefits until the justices rule on his administration’s appeal of it.

The U.S. Supreme Court in June found a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

“The state’s statutory scheme effectively denies committed same-sex partners in New Jersey the ability to receive federal benefits not afforded to married partners,” the New Jersey Supreme Court decision reads.

New Jersey on Monday will join 13 other states and D.C. in which gays and lesbians can marry.

LGBT rights advocates have filed lawsuits on behalf of same-sex couples seeking marriage rights in neighboring Pennsylvania and other states that include Virginia, Ohio, Nevada and New Mexico.

Illinois lawmakers next week are poised to potentially debate a measure that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Lawmakers in Hawaii will consider the issue in a special legislative session that begins on Oct. 28.

BuzzFeed on Friday reported that Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who defeated former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan earlier this week in the U.S. Senate race to succeed the late-New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg, will officiate several same-sex weddings at 12:01 a.m. on Monday. Asbury Park and other municipalities on Friday began to issue marriage licenses to gays and lesbians in spite of an order from the New Jersey Department of Health that told them not to do so until the state Supreme Court ruled.

“On Monday, New Jersey will begin to tear down its Berlin Wall separating straight people who had total freedom, and LGBT people who have not,” Steven Goldstein, founder of Garden State Equality, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, said in a statement. “Governor Christie, not even you have the power to resurrect that wall.”

“The long wait in New Jersey is finally over: the door is open for love, commitment and equality under the law,” Haley Gorenberg, deputy legal director of Lambda Legal, which filed the same-sex marriage case on behalf of Garden State Equality and six same-sex couples in 2011, added. “This is a huge victory for New Jersey’s same-sex couples and their families.”

The state Supreme Court in January is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Christie’s appeal.

Lawmakers have until Jan. 14 to override the governor’s 2012 veto of a same-sex marriage bill.

“The Supreme Court has made its determination,” Christie spokesperson Michael Drewniak said in a statement. “While the governor firmly believes that this determination should be made by all the people of the state of New Jersey, he has instructed the Department of Health to cooperate with all municipalities in effectuating the order of the Superior Court under the applicable law.”

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

2 Comments
  • Why is is that Governor Christie believes gay people should have to seek permission from fellow citizens to marry the person they love?

    Why is it that Governor Christie believes that this popularity test only applies to gay citizens, and no one else?

    Why is it that Governor Christie believes that this is not up to 'one activist judge' to decide, when HE himself is singlehandedly responsible for gay people not ALREADY having the rights recognized?

    The hypocrisy of this slovenly man is an embarrassment to fair-minded people everywhere.

  • We need an across-the-board decision by the Federal Government. Here in TN, they’ve gone as far as to create a new holiday- “Traditional Marriage Day” in which the wording of the bill quotes The Holy Bible. Why does the State feel it has the right to continually define marriage? Exactly what is “Traditional” Marriage in Tennessee seeing as even Interracial Marriage is STILL outlawed by the State Constitution along with Same Sex Marriage? [URL REMOVED]

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