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Topics In the News
New Jersey Cities Begin Issuing Marriage Licences to Same-Sex Couples; Supreme Court Declines to Halt Same-Sex Marriages
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 10/18/13
Last updated on: 10/18/13
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Two of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that overturned the New Jersey ban on same-sex marriage.

Despite advice from the state Health Department, some New Jersey cities, including Asbury Park, Jersey City, and Newark, began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on October 18, 2013. The cities decided to issue the licenses so that gay and lesbian couples can marry at the earliest possible moment if the New Jersey Supreme Court decided not to stay the order of Judge Mary Jacobson that same-sex couples be allowed to wed beginning on October 21, 2013. On the afternoon of October 18, the Supreme Court announced that it would not issue the stay requested by Governor Christie, so same-sex marriages in New Jersey will begin on Monday. Newly-elected U.S. Senator Cory Booker announced that he will officiate several same-sex weddings at 12:01 a.m. on October 21.

As Susan K. Livio reports in the Star-Ledger, on October 17, State Registrar Vincent Arrisi, an official of the Health Department, sent an email to local registrars asking them not to accept applications from same-sex couples until the Supreme Court acts. "We are still awaiting legal direction on . . . when we can start taking applications," Arrisi said. "At this point, you cannot take applications for same-sex marriages until you hear from this office that we have the authority to do so."

"All the marriage forms have been modified and are ready to go when we receive official word and will be uploaded to our website and will be ready to go," he added.

However, several local officials decided to disregard Arrisi's advice and began issuing marriages licenses. Asbury Park administrator Terence Reidy, for example, said that his city was issuing the licenses now because New Jersey has a three-day waiting period after a license is issued before it can be used.

"We're doing it so that we're ready," Reidy said. "If something happens--the law changes--the city isn't going to do anything in violation of any ruling or regulation. We're being proactive so that when the 21st comes, any couple that wants to be married, they're ready and we're ready."

"Absent a legally binding order not to issue these applications, it is our understanding of the law, that we have the right and obligation to begin issuing applications [today]," Reidy said. "Please be clear, this is not a act of civil disobedience, but rather our interpretation of what the law permits at this time."

Mayor Steve Fulop of Jersey City said that his office also began issuing licenses on October 18.

"As the largest LGBT community in New Jersey and one of the first in the state to issue civil unions, we are intending on being the first to issue licenses and perform weddings on Monday," Fulop said.

Red Bank also began issuing licenses on the 18th.

In Lambertville, however, Mayor David DelVecchio said that he would follow the state registrar's recommendation and wait until the Supreme Court gives direction.

However, DelVecchio added that, unless the Supreme Court issued a stay of Jacobson's ruling, he is prepared to officiate at a wedding at 12:01 a.m. Monday.

Beth Asaro and Joanne Schailey--the first same-sex couple to obtain a civil union in 2006--will be the first to be married, DelVecchio said. Other couples in civil unions will also be married, he said.

Chris Geidner reports in BuzzFeed, that Cory Booker, fresh off his election to the United States Senate but still Mayor of Newark, has plans to marry several same-sex couples at 12:01 a.m. on October 21.

According to information provided to BuzzFeed, wedding plans are moving forward at this time, with at least 10 couples and their families expected to attend the early Monday morning event.

On the afternoon of October 18, the Supreme Court announced that it would not stay Judge Jacobson's decision and that same-sex marriages could begin on October 21. The unanimous ruling, written by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, makes it abundantly clear that Governor Christie's appeal of Judge Jacobson's ruling, which is scheduled to be heard in January, will fail.

The clip below reports on Judge Jacobson's ruling and includes an interview with two of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that overturned New Jersey's ban on same-sex marriage.

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