TRENTON, NJ (AP):
Governor Chris Christie dropped his legal challenge to same-sex marriages yesterday, removing the possibility that the vows of couples who began getting married hours earlier could be undone by a court.
New Jersey became the 14th American state to allow gay marriages yesterday, three days after the state Supreme Court unanimously rejected Christie's request to delay the start of the nuptials.
He has said residents, not a court or legislators, should decide on the issue.
"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 spokesman Michael Drewniak 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 announcement came from a Republican governor who is a possible 2016 presidential candidate and has for years opposed gay marriage while supporting the state's previous civil union law.
It was met with jubilation from gay-rights advocates including Steven Goldstein, the founder and former leader of Garden State Equality, who asked, "How much happiness can I stand?"
Conversely, conservatives like National Organisation for Marriage President Brian Brown scorned the legalisation of gay weddings.
"This is just another example of the courts making law out of thin air," he said. "Obviously, Christie should have continued the lawsuit."
Brown said his group could look into whether it could continue the legal fight that Christie dropped, but said he doubts the courts would allow anyone to intervene.