Lauren and Katelynn hug each other as they attend the first massive gay wedding ceremonies at City Hall in the early morning hours of October 21, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.
Kena Betancur/Getty Images

Marriage equality arrives in New Jersey

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) had been expected to keep fighting against marriage equality, even as same-sex couples started marrying this morning, which made this governor’s latest move that much more surprising.
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey announced on Monday that he would drop his legal challenge to same-sex marriage, hours after same-sex couples started exchanging vows in midnight ceremonies across the state.
Mr. Christie’s withdrawal of his appeal to the court decision that allowed the marriages came on the heels of a ruling by the state’s Supreme Court on Friday that rejected his attempt to block the marriages until the appeal was resolved. His decision effectively removed the last hurdle to making same-sex marriage legal in New Jersey.
Prior to this morning, 13 states and the District of Columbia extended equal-marriage rights to same-sex couples, and now New Jersey has joined the club.
One of the striking things about this breakthrough is how fast it came together. To recap, just three weeks ago, Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ordered the state to begin officiating same-sex marriages today, basing her ruling on the Supreme Court precedent set in the Defense of Marriage Act case.
Christie quickly appealed the decision, it was widely assumed that the order would be put on hold, leaving the current law in place, while the case is litigated further. That didn’t happen – Judge Jacobson said there “is no ‘public interest’ in depriving a class of New Jersey residents their constitutional rights while appellate review is pursued.”
So Christie took his case to the state Supreme Court, where he hoped to leave unequal treatment in place until the final ruling on the case, and as of Friday, he lost this round, too.
And this morning, the governor threw in the towel, scrapping the appeal he was likely to lose.
We can speculate as to why Christie gave up, but I have a hunch he didn’t see a political upside to keeping this fight going – two weeks before Election Day – with the prevailing political winds already supporting civil rights.
Related video:
The Rachel Maddow Show, 10/21/13, 11:10 PM ET

Christie gives up marriage equality fight

Jeff Cook-McCormac, senior advisor to American Unity Fund, talks with Rachel Maddow about the challenges of advocating for gay rights in Republican politics.

Chris Christie, Marriage Equality and New Jersey

Marriage equality arrives in New Jersey