Couples exchange vows as New Jersey becomes 14th state to allow same-sex marriage.
ASBURY PARK, N.J. — Hours after same-sex couples lined up across the state to marry, Gov. Chris Christie dropped his administration's efforts to end gay marriage.
Christie and his Acting Attorney General John Hoffman filed an appeal to the State Supreme Court after a lower court ruled that same-sex couples can begin to get married in New Jersey at midnight on Monday, but Christie withdrew the appeal this morning.
A statement issued by Christie's office noted that when the State Supreme Court denied the governor's efforts to delay same-sex marriages, Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote in the denial that "same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today."
"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 statement went on, "the Court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey Constitution and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law. The Governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his Administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court."
Meanwhile, couples were pronounced husband and husband, wife and wife.
Shore area same-sex couples eloped shortly after midnight on Monday when gay marriage became legal in New Jersey.
Three couples married on the steps of the Paramount Theater before a crowd of about 50 people. It was an historic and emotional moment that brought tears to some guests as they watched the couples wed under a full moon in the cold wind.
"It's utterly pure and complete relief to finally be here because it's been a crazy long road," said Karen Nicholson-McFadden after marrying Marcye Nicholson-McFadden, her partner of 24 years.
The Aberdeen women were plaintiffs in the lawsuit that brought same-sex marriage to the state.
Also tying the knot in Asbury Park on Monday were Councilwoman Amy Quinn and her partner Heather Jensen, who had a joint ceremony with couple Steven Brunner and Daniel Baum.
The Rev. Thomas Pivinski officiated each wedding and said the state's recognition of gay marriage was long overdue.
"I think it's wonderful," said Pivinski, who is a retired Catholic priest. "I am just very grateful that the state has recognized the equality of all people."
In Red Bank, two same-sex couples also took their wedding vows just minutes after midnight.
Ed Zipprich and John Paul Nicolaides, partners of 17 years, were the first couple to be married in Red Bank. The couple took their vows at 12:05 a.m. before 40 friends and family members.
"We wanted to be first," said Nicolaides, moments after saying "I do."
Zipprich and Nicolaides filed their application for a marriage license in the borough at 12:01 a.m. last Friday so that their midnight marriage would be possible.
Borough Clerk and Registrar Pam Borgi said she received the new template for same sex marriages licenses at 6:30 Friday evening.
Red Bank Mayor Pasquale "Pat" Menna threw open the doors of Borough Hall in order for the ceremony to take place.
"It's an historic moment," Menna said. "People want to be a part of history. This is so great that after midnight so many people showed up."
Zipprich, 53, and Nicolaides, 49, were married by Colleen Mahr, the mayor of Fanwood, and also a close friend of the couple.
"I thought a lot about this moment. These marriages were not possible the day before, and it was special to bear witness to it," Mahr said.
After Zipprich and Nicolaides were married, Mahr married a second couple that asked that their names not be included in the story.