New Jersey Gay Marriages Begin After Chris Christie Drops Appeal

New Jersey began performing gay marriages on Monday after Governor Chris Christie dropped his appeal and paved the way for the Garden State to become the 14th in the nation to recognize same-sex marriage.

Gay couples, some of whom have waited decades to have the opportunity to marry, gathered for impromptu wedding ceremonies across the state.

On Friday the New Jersey state Supreme Court rejected Christie’s request to delay the implementation of same-sex marriages, upholding a lower court’s decision to allow gay marriage. In an email sent Monday morning, Christie’s office said the governor would not appeal further.

In its ruling, the court justices noted that an appeal would have not have a reasonable likelihood of success.

“The state has advanced a number of arguments, but none of them overcome this reality: same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today,” Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote in his opinion. “The harm to them is real, not abstract or speculative.”

Gay couples in New Jersey can now begin receiving all state and federal benefits as other marriages, including the ability to file joint tax returns and receive Social Security survivor benefits.

New Jersey saw a number of marriages on Monday, including one for Bet Asaro and Joanne Schailey, who were one of the first couples to enter a civil union when the state legalized them in 2007.

“We remained optimistic and hopeful that we would be able to gather together to do the right thing, the just thing, and see our two friends get married,” said Lambertville mayor Dave DelVecchio, a friend of the couple who led the ceremony.

The New Jersey marriages are not without controversy. At City Hall in Newark, a protester briefly interrupted a marriage being performed by Mayor Cory Cooker, who last week was elected to the US Senate. The protester was removed, and Booker declared the women as “lawful spouses.”

From The Detroit News:

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