In what is being seen as a major victory for marriage equality, New Jersey's highest court on Friday resoundingly refused to stand in the way of same-sex marriages commencing in the state Monday.
The state Supreme Court unanimously denied the Christie administration's request not to allow same-sex marriages starting next week, pending its appeal of a lower-court decision clearing the way for the nuptials. The high court stated "that the public interest does not favor a stay."
In a statement, Gov. Chris Christie's spokesman said: "The Supreme Court has made its determination. While the governor firmly believes that this determination should be made by all the people of the state of New Jersey, he has instructed the Department of Health to cooperate with all municipalities in effectuating the order of the Superior Court under the applicable law."
On Sept. 27, state Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson found that the state's civil union law violates same-sex couples' civil rights by denying them federal benefits and protections. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the appeal of Judge Jacobson's decision in January.
Earlier Friday, even before the high court's decision came, the municipalities of Collingswood, Asbury Park and Red Bank started accepting marriage license applications so same-sex couples could get married Monday, if they chose to do so, given the state's 72-hour wait requirement. Those municipalities defied a state health department directive not to accept the applications until the department got legal guidance.
Collingswood Mayor James Maley said it was "ridiculous" that the state attorney general's office had not provided that guidance. "It's disrespectful of the court's order. It's respectful of these couples," he said.
By late afternoon, other towns, including Cherry Hill, said they were accepting applications.
Collingswood resident Anthony Murabito and Keith Mullineaux had planned on applying for their marriage license Monday, but hurried over to the borough hall when they heard that they could apply as early as Friday. Two hours after filling out the marriage application, Mr. Murabito got word that the Supreme Court had denied a stay on gay marriages. "We're even more ecstatic now, knowing the Supreme Court said we can go ahead," he said.
The two will be married Thursday in Mr. Murabito's sister's backyard, weather permitting. The cake will be done by bakers at Crumbs Pastry Shoppe, where Mr. Murabito works in the Cherry Hill Mall, and the two will go to look at tuxes Monday after picking up their license from Collingswood Borough Hall.nation - electionspresident
First Published October 18, 2013 8:00 PM