Gay couple wed in New Jersey
March 09 2004 12:00 AM ET
A gay couple were married in Asbury Park, N.J., City Hall on Monday after being issued a license by city officials who say New Jersey law does not explicitly ban such unions. In a short 3:30 p.m. ceremony attended by about 10 people, Louis Navarrete and Ric Best, both of Asbury Park, tied the knot in city council chambers.
The two had paid $28 for a marriage license on Friday and waited the requisite 72 hours, said Laura Jewell, a spokeswoman for city clerk Dawn Tomek. Monday's wedding was the first same-sex marriage ceremony performed in New Jersey. Six other applications for same-sex weddings are pending, city officials said.
"As a show of support to the city's gay community and the gay community nationwide, the city of Asbury Park has determined that it will commence the issuance of licenses to same-sex couples and the solemnization of marriage between same-sex couples, immediately, as a matter of fundamental civil and constitutional rights," Tomek said in a written statement. She said New Jersey is one of 12 states that have no statute expressly banning same-sex marriages and that nothing in state law defines marriage as the exclusive province of opposite-sex couples.
"We're proud that New Jersey is at the forefront of the marriage equality movement," said Steven Goldstein, New Jersey campaign manager for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a gay rights organization. Two years ago Lambda filed a suit to allow gay couples to marry in New Jersey. It is currently on appeal, according to Goldstein.
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