Dozens of gay couples across New Jersey are holding wedding ceremonies and applying for marriage licenses today as the state becomes the 14th U.S. state to legalize gay marriage. Mayors began officiating weddings this morning at 12:01 AM.
“We are very excited that now, finally, we get to marry,” New Jersey resident Allen Kratz, who plans to marry his partner of 28 years on Thursday, told Reuters. “I know some political leaders think it’s too soon. But civil rights always come too soon for those in a position of power and never soon enough for those who have been denied, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
The state’s Supreme Court ruled Friday against a request by Governor Chris Christie to delay a lower court’s September ruling allowing gay marriage until the top court could hear the state’s appeal and make a final decision. “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,” wrote Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, “The harm to them is real, not abstract or speculative.”
The earlier ruling stated that the current civil union system deprives same-sex couples of equal protection under the law, and that gay marriages could start on October 21. It is the first time a state has lifted a ban on gay marriage as a result of United States v. Windsor, which struck down the federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman in June.
The state’s appeal of the ruling was scheduled to be heard by the state Supreme Court in January, but Christiedropped the legal challenge after the Court issued its decision allowing marriages to proceed.
Media Resources: CNN 10/21/13; NJ.com 10/21/13; Reuters 10/21/13; The New York Times 10/21/13; Feminist Newswire 9/30/13