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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) in New Jersey via the state courts

Reactions to the Court's decision to legalize
SSM and to Governor Christie's decision
to stop resisting SSM: by liberals. Conclusions.

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Earlier information about the case

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In this web site:
"SSM" refers to same-sex marriage;
LGBT refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transsexuals

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2013-OCT: Reactions to Governor Christie's capitulation by religious and social liberals:

  • The "Young Turks" discuss Governor Christie's capitulation:


  • Connie N. Larkman wrote on the United Church of Christ's web site:

    "Midnight on [the morning of] Monday, Oct. 21 brought marriage equality to New Jersey, and the Rev. Ann Ralosky, pastor of First Congregational Church United Church of Christ in Montclair, N.J., was more than happy to usher it in.

    'I'm thrilled to tell you that I presided over a wedding of two men from our congregation at 12:01 this morning,' Ralosky wrote. 'For me, this was a moment of great joy –- and of history. It was a privilege to preside over the legal marriage of two people who had been in a committed and loving relationship for 22 years. The love was there, the commitment was there, but the protection of the law was not.'

    The grooms, Peter Wert and Thomas Rose, were not sure they would be able to make it legal last night, but they wanted to try. 'Because of the future of uncertainly facing so many others in our position, it was important to make a statement and put a face to it,' Wert said.

    'It wasn't our intention to make a statement, but we were planning on getting married by the end of the year, so we decided to do it the first moment the law became effective,' Wert said. 'We've been together 8,150 days since we met. We could have gotten married other places, but it's about being accepted where we are, and we ended up with a beautiful ceremony.'

    The couple took their vows with their 10-year-old twins, Benjamin & Dominique Rose, as witnesses, surrounded by 50 or 60 friends from their community.

    'What this tells me is that the state has finally caught up to what we have known for a long time in our church: marriages strengthen families and communities,' said Ralosky. 'They magnify the love of God in a special way and it was just beautiful to be a part of it'." 2

  • Steve Peoples & Thomas Beaumont of The Huffington Post wrote, in part:

    "The tell-it-like-it-is governor is signaling that he won't be intimidated by a vocal conservative minority that usually wields great influence in Republican presidential politics. And with political divisions deepening â€" especially in the Republican Party â€" Christie is betting his political future that the GOP and the nation ultimately would embrace an unapologetic compromiser capable of attracting a broad coalition of voters, as he is expected to do in gubernatorial voting in two weeks.

    There are clear risks.

    While national public opinion is evolving, Republicans who oppose gay marriage traditionally dominate GOP politics in early-voting states on the presidential calendar such as Iowa and South Carolina.

    'Abandoning foundational principles that go beyond politics is not the way to get positive attention in South Carolina,' said Bob McAlister, a veteran South Carolina-based Republican strategist, adding that Christie's latest move 'is absolutely going to hurt him'." 3

  • Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, issued a statement:

    "Today, New Jersey becomes the 14th state to allow marriage equality ensuring equal rights for its citizens. It is a historic day and a victory for all who support justice and equality.

    Many couples who have waited so long for this day are already applying for marriage licenses, and weddings are being performed by many Unitarian Universalist ministers across the state.

    More and more Americans realize that marriage equality strengthens families, protects children, and ensures basic rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender couples. I applaud the work of those people and organizations, including our Unitarian Universalist congregations and ministers, who have fought so hard for so long for this cause.

    New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s decision to drop his appeal against the court ruling is just another indication that marriage equality is here to stay.  As always, Unitarian Universalists will continue to stand on the side of love, and we look forward to the day when marriage equality is the right of all families." 4

  • Steven Goldstein, founder and former head of Garden State Equality, said:

    "On Monday, New Jersey will begin to tear down its Berlin Wall separating straight people who have had total freedom, and LGBT people who have not. Governor Christie, not even you have the power to resurrect that wall. It’s time to stop the charade of opposing the inevitable. ... Imagine the happiness you'd feel if you won the Super Bowl, the Nobel Prize and an Academy Award all in a single moment, and multiply it by a million. That's how we LGBT New Jerseyans feel right now," 5,6

  • Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D), who is openly gay, said:

    "Equality has won out once again and I thank the Supreme Court for ruling on the side of justice." 6

  • Lawrence S. Lustberg, a lawyer for Lambda Legal, argued the case before a New Jersey Superior Court. He referred initially to the lawsuit fought in the New Jersey Supreme Court which eventually caused the Legislature to create a system of civil unions, saying:

    "I think the handwriting was on the wall as clearly as it could possibly be. ... The governor had always said he would fight this all the way up to the Supreme Court, but he didn’t say he was going to fight it to the Supreme Court twice. As a matter of reasonable lawyering on the one hand, and a clear perception of what the court’s position was on the other, this was inevitable." 7

  • State Senator Barbara Buono (D) who is running against Christie for the governorship said that Christie had tried:

    "... to block the rights of gays and lesbians at every turn. It took a determined effort by brave individuals, and a unanimous decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court to force the governor to drop his appeal. I am thrilled the court ended his ability to enforce his bigoted views that are contrary to the values of our state." 8

  • Gabriela Celeiro, 34, and Liz Salerno, 38, were the fourth couple to be married in Newark early on the morning of OCT-21 by Senator-elect Cory Booker. Salerno commented on how she felt now that she had been able to marry her partner of five years. She said:

    ""I feel like I'm an actual human being, and I'm respected to the same level as others are. There's still going to be challenges. Not everyone wants to see us together and let us be together, but at least when you have the leaders of a state [supporting SSM], that trickles down and makes it more acceptable." 9

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Marriage equality now appears to be settled in New Jersey, the 14th state to do so. It is the third most populous state to legalize SSM, following California and New York State.

As of 2013-OCT-21:

  • Loving, committed same-sex couples can now marry in any of 15 American jurisdictions: 14 states and the District of Columbia.

  • One in three Americans now live in a state or district where all couples can marry.

  • All of the states in the U.S. Northeast have now attained marriage equality with the exception of Pennsylvania.

  • This is the first case in which marriage equality was reached in a state as a result of lower court ruling -- a state Superior Court.

  • It is also the first case where a state court ruling in favor of SSM was largely based on the 2013-JUN-26 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that declared Section 4 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional. We expect that it will not be the last. Previous legalizations of same-sex marriages were the result of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, a state Supreme Court ruling, a state legislature bill, or a citizen initiative/referendum.

  • It may also be the first case where three simultaneous efforts were active that might have attained marriage equality:

    • Governor Christie (R) advocated in favor of a voter plebiscite.

    • Legislators -- mostly Democrat -- promoted a bill in the state Legislature, and

    • Same-sex couples, supported by civil rights advocacy groups -- launched a court case , which was ultimately successful.

  • It was also the first instance when a state public opinion poll indicated that a plurality of Republican voters favor SSM.

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We don't expect any further developments to report here.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. The Young Turks, "Chris Christie Ends Fight To Ban Gay Marriage In New Jersey," You Tube, at:
  2. Connie N. Larkman, "UCC marriage equality advocates celebrate as New Jersey becomes number 14," United Church of Christ, 2013-OCT-21, at:
  3. Steve Peoples & Thomas Beaumont, "Chris Christie gay marriage move stirs GOP," Huffington Post, 2013-OCT-22, at:
  4. "UUA President Peter Morales Issues Statement on Marriage Equality in New Jersey," Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, 2013-OCT-21, at:
  5. Aaron Blake and Juliet Eilperin, "New Jersey same-sex marriages can begin Monday, state’s Supreme Court rules," Washington Post, 2013-O
    CT-18, at:
  6. Bob Jordan, "New Jersey court to allow same-sex marriages," USA Today, 2013-OCT-18, at:
  7. Marc Santora and Kate Zernike, "Last barrier to N.J. same-sex weddings falls," 2013-OCT-22, at:
  8. Bryan Koenig, "Christie drops challenge to same-sex marriages," CNN, 2013-OCT-22, at:
  9. Adam Gabbatt, "First gay marriages in New Jersey take place," The Guardian, 2013-OCT-21, at:

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Site navigation: Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > SSM Menu > New Jersey > here

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Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2013-OCT-21
Latest update: 2013-OCT-24
Author: B.A. Robinson

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