Until today, civil unions were legal in New Jersey, but not marriages. But a Superior Court judge had ruled last month that in the wake of the
Christie, whose values are conservative, appealed the ruling to the state's Supreme Court. He also asked that marriages not be allowed to begin during the appeal process.
But on Friday, in a 7-0 decision, the state Supreme Court said that same-sex couples could marry on Oct. 21, even though it would still hear Christie's appeal. The court ruled that same-sex couples were being deprived of "the full rights and benefits the state constitution guarantees," suggesting that Christie would lose his appeal.
That seems to have been decision enough for Christie. On Monday morning he announced that he had advised New Jersey Acting Attorney General John Hoffman to withdraw the state's appeal in the case, Garden State Equality vs. Paula Dow.
"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," Christie's office said in a statement. "The Governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his Administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court."
The news added to an already festive mood in New Jersey, where gay couples started marrying at 12:01 a.m., with Senator-elect
The pace of states legalizing gay marriage has accelerated in the past year, after three states voted to permit same-sex marriage in last year's elections. Since then, the Rhode Island legislature voted to allow same-sex marriages and the Delaware legislature voted to adopt a law to convert civil unions into marriages.
The Supreme Court's decision in June striking down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act has helped gay-rights advocates in states such as New Jersey overturn bans on gay marriage through courts as well. A federal judge will hear arguments challenging Michigan's ban on gay marriage early next year.