2013 10 22 NYT A New Day in New Jersey – NYTimes.com
A New Day in New Jersey
Gov. Chris Christie has repeatedly fought legislative and legal attempts to allow same-sex marriage in New Jersey. On Monday, he finally decided to drop his appeal of a state court decision issued in September that allowed gay and lesbian couples to marry.
Judge Mary Jacobson of New Jersey Superior Court ruled last month that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry to fulfill the State Constitution’s requirement of equal protection. The unequal status of same-sex couples in New Jersey became even more pronounced after federal agencies began providing benefits to legally married same-sex couples.
Mr. Christie said through a spokesman that he strongly disagreed with the state court’s ruling but would uphold the law since it became clear that he would not win on appeal.
In a unanimous ruling on Friday, the New Jersey Supreme Court agreed with Judge Jacobson and declined Mr. Christie’s request for a temporary stay pending the court’s hearing of his appeal in early January. Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote that “same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today.” The harm to gay couples in delaying their right to marry, he added, “is real, not abstract or speculative.”
New Jersey now joins 13 states and the District of Columbia in granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Instead of civil unions, which failed to extend the full benefits of marriage, marriage allows these couples to be treated equally by federal agencies like the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Health and Human Services. The same-sex weddings that are now taking place in New Jersey, as they have elsewhere, may cause dismay among some of Mr. Christie’s conservative allies. But pushing forward on a legal appeal would have been pointless and wrong.