By Lucas Grindley
Originally published on Advocate.com October 21 2013 3:41 AM ET
The fight is over in New Jersey.
Same-sex couples began getting married at midnight, and by morning Gov. Chris Christie announced he would drop his effort to stop the weddings from happening.
"Although the governor strongly disagrees with the court substituting its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches or a vote of the people, the court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey constitution and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law," said a spokesman for the governor, according to The Star-Ledger.
The legislature first passed marriage equality in February 2012, only to have Christie veto it the next day. The hard-charging Republican governor, who is up for reelection next month, opposed same-sex marriage and argued it should instead be put up to a popular vote. Then a judge ruled in September that the New Jersey constitution doesn't allow the state to bar same-sex couples from wedding. Christie immediately appealed that decision.
Couples began marrying at midnight because the state's Supreme Court declined to delay the effect of the lower court's ruling. If Christie had gone forward with his appeal, it would have been heard in January and left open a chance he could succeed in stopping gay weddings. But Christie's spokesman said, according to The Star-Ledger, that the language of the ruling implied he'd lose because it "left no ambiguity about the unanimous court's view on the ultimate decision."
New Jersey's popular newly elected U.S. senator, Cory Booker, brought the media spotlight to LGBT equality as he married same-sex couples the moment it became legal in his state at midnight. The Newark mayor is known for his active Twitter account, and he shared photos and expressed congratulations to the couples — gay, lesbian, and straight — whose unions he officiated at Newark's City Hall.
One person tweeted to Booker, "I dont care that gays get married but I hate that u try to politicize it. Hope God is watching you." To which he responded, "I know he is watching us both."
Marriage equality had become an issue in Christie's reelection fight, in which his opponent, New Jersey state senator Barbara Buono, used a television ad to paint his stance as a play for an eventual presidential run in 2016. In their final debate, Christie said he'd oppose marriage equality even if his own child came out as gay. In an earlier debate, Buono called out the governor during a debate for saying the legislature can't be relied on to decide marriage equality because "I don’t trust 121 politicians with political agendas."
"My daughter, who is openly gay, is not a political agenda," Buono shot back during the debate.
On the following pages, see photos of the joyful moment as couples were married in Newark.
Orville Bell and Joseph Panessidi were the first couple to be married.
Pierre DuFresne and James Credle
Lydia Torres and Jenelle Torres
Alexander Padilla and Anthony Arenas
Debra Summers and Lynne Womble
Grace E. Guerrero and Jeanette L. Williams