Just hours after New Jersey became the 14th state to begin marrying same-sex couples, Gov. Chris Christie (R) announced he would withdraw his appeal to block marriage equality.
The “Court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey Constitution and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law,” a statement read. While he reiterated his strong disagreement with the court, Christie said he would ensure his administration enforced the law.
In the early hours on Monday, history was made in New Jersey as gay couples began to marry.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop married eight couples before a crowd of roughly 200 people at City Hall on Monday. “It’s a great thing to be a part of,” Fulop told msnbc. “Jersey City has one of if not the largest LGBT communities in New Jersey. Outside of that component, it’s an important civil rights issue.”
In Newark, Mayor and Senator-elect Cory Booker also married seven couples just after midnight.
Chrisie had appealed a state judge’s ruling that gay and lesbian couples have the right to marry. In a blow to the Christie administration, on Friday the state Supreme Court unanimously ruled that New Jersey must allow same-sex marriages. Polls showed Christie obstruction was seen negatively by New Jersey voters, a majority of whom wanted him to drop his appeal.
Barbara Buono, Christie’s Democratic challenger in the state’s upcoming gubernatorial election, is strongly in favor of marriage equality.
The wedding at City Hall brought out scores of friends and family, who were equally eager to get a front-row seat to history in the making.
Richard Colon canceled a business trip to Puerto Rico to join his friends Peter Connell and David Calle, a couple of 13 years, at the event, acting as their best man. Calle proposed to Connell on Friday evening soon after he heard the news, and the couple came to City Hall on Saturday for their marriage license.
“They’re married anyway,” Colon said, acknowledging a commitment ceremony Connell, 48, and Calle, 47, had nine years ago in the city’s Liberty State Park. “But this is more for the protection of each other. I’m happy for them.”
Connell told me their reasons for marrying are simple: “Because we love each other” and “for the protection aspects of it.” Calle currently doesn’t have health insurance and Connell is eager to remedy that.
After the marriage ceremony, which lasted roughly 8 minutes, Connell said he felt different. “I feel included. I always felt like we were left out or like there was a secret everybody knows about that we weren’t allowed to be in on. I feel new.”
David Gibson, 62, a graphic designer, who married Rich Kiamco, 44, on Monday, drew another conclusion.
“This one was symbolic of the work that’s been done to move forward the cause of same-sex marriage,” he said. “You could feel the whole energy in the room.”
Gibson’s partner, Kiamco, a comedian, couldn’t help but take a jab at Christie following the ceremony.
“This is like a spiritual bitch slap to Chris Christie,” he said of the wedding and of the state Supreme Court’s ruling. “There is my sound byte: Chris Christie! Feel my spiritual bitch slap.”