October 21st, 2013
10:19 AM ET
1 year ago

Christie drops challenge to same-sex marriages

Updated 10/21/2013 at 3:54 p.m. ET

(CNN) - New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie is dropping a legal challenge to a court ruling abolishing the state's ban on same-sex marriages.

"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 Monday morning 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."

Friday, the New Jersey Supreme Court declined to temporarily block a lower court ruling knocking down the state's same-sex marriage ban. The state's highest court had been scheduled to hear further arguments in January. With that case dropped, same-sex weddings in New Jersey became legal starting at 12:01 a.m. Monday.

Christie has long said he opposes weddings for gay and lesbian couples. In his first reelection debate earlier this month, he called for a state referendum to decide the issue, although the governor said he would accept legalized same-sex marriages were a majority of Garden State voters to approve it.

In the second debate against state Sen. Barbara Buono, the Democratic challenger, Christie said that if his children came out as gay, he would still love them but his views on same-sex marriage would remain unchanged.

In a Quinnipiac poll earlier this month, New Jerseyans said they preferred Christie drop the challenge by a nearly two-to-one margin. A slight plurality of Republican voters said Christie should continue to pursue the challenge, 49% to 42%.

Christie’s decision to drop the legal challenge comes two weeks before he will face Buono at the ballots. Favored to win reelection by double digit margins in public opinion polls, Christie has worked hard to present himself as a political moderate in a blue-state race widely considered to be a test-run for a possible 2016 presidential bid.

Buono released a statement describing Christie's views as "bigoted. "

"Despite Governor Christie's efforts 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," she said. "I am thrilled the court ended his ability to enforce his bigoted views that are contrary to the values of our state."

The conservative-values organization Family Research Council released a statement Monday expressing "disappointment" with Christie's decision not to pursue the case.

"We are glad that Gov. Christie vetoed the legislature's attempt to redefine marriage, and that he was initially willing to defend the state's marriage law in court," Senior Fellow for Policy Studies Peter Sprigg said in the statement.

"However, conservatives are looking for leaders who will sustain their commitment to unchanging principles. Combined with his signing of a radical bill to outlaw even voluntary sexual orientation change efforts with minors, today's action has given conservatives serious pause about Gov. Christie's reliability."

Gay and lesbian couples in New Jersey started getting married 12:01 a.m. Monday, the moment the lower court's ruling went into effect.

The decision was based in large part on the summer's U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that prohibited discrimination against same-sex couples. In her decision, the New Jersey judge argued that the state's continuing allowance only of civil unions for gay and lesbian couples was discriminatory.

Among those granting the early-morning marriages was Democratic Senator-elect Cory Booker, the Newark, New Jersey mayor who overwhelmingly won his bid last week to fill out the remainder of the term of the late Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died in June.

New Jersey's Assembly Speaker, Democrat Sheila Oliver, who had urged Christie to drop his fight, praised the governor's decision in a statement Monday.

"This will long be remembered as a great day for equality in New Jersey," Oliver said.


Filed under: Chris Christie • New Jersey • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (302 Responses)
  1. Wake up People!

    Don't be fooled by this giant wolf in sheeps clothing dems. He's a republican through and through.

    October 21, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    In his first reelection debate earlier this month, he called for a state referendum to decide the issue, although the governor said he would accept legalized same-sex marriages were a majority of Garden State voters to approve it.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Hmm.
    No referendum took place but the courts have said it is the law.
    The question is: Is Christie holding back on challenging the law until AFTER his re-election? Or will he abide by the court's decision?
    No use pissing people off right before they vote right Chris? Best to lay low and wait...

    October 21, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Christie drops challenge to same-sex marriages
    -------------------------–
    Of course, he'll resume the challenge after he wins re-election. It would be bad form to appear anti-gay, or anti-anybody, two weeks before election day. But, he's a Republican. He'll take a re-election victory to mean a mandate to resume the Republican wars against all of the "not one of us" people.

    October 21, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  4. Mike

    Now if the state legislature overrides the Christie's veto if the legislation, it would codify the courts action. It would make it harder for a court in the future to change its mind...

    October 21, 2013 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  5. janeen

    I do not thank that the same sex should be married

    October 21, 2013 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  6. Odo

    Good...now Christie can go back to removing rights of women, unions, and other GOP undesirables.....

    October 21, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  7. Roger

    Mr. Christie: The court's judgement IS part of the constitutional process. You've been blinded by pride for your chosen party.

    October 21, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  8. skarphace

    Oh noes! What are all those straight people going to do now that gay couples can marry? I guess they will just have to, well, to go on living their lives as they always have, I guess. But their ability to feel superior is greatly diminished, I am sure.

    October 21, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  9. Blahdiblahdi

    Christie paying lip service to his conservative constituency so that he can run for president down the road. He obviously has never really been against gay marriage. He is probably one of the last somewhat reasonable moderate Republicans left in the country.

    October 21, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  10. Cooler

    Mr. Governor, how's that NJ-NY tunnel that would create thousands of new jobs and boost the states' economy doing?
    Oh yeah, you killed the tunnel just to raise your "conservative" credentials for the possible 2016 run.
    You've never been about NJ, it's all about your ego.

    October 21, 2013 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  11. Data Driven

    "The Governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his Administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court."

    How refreshing!

    I keep hearing about this "moderate" guy in New Jersey. Must not be the governor, who has to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

    October 21, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  12. Jeb

    Christie's first act as governor was to appoint a Secretary of Cake.

    October 21, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  13. ellid

    A Republican who actually has a grain of sense.

    Wow.

    October 21, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  14. IAmADemocratBut

    Its got to be SO hard to be a standup guy like Christie and function within the Republican establishment. I am glad he dropped the gay marriage challenge – they deserve to be able to be married.

    October 21, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  15. Rudy NYC

    Christie drops challenge to same-sex marriages
    -------------------------–
    Of course, he'll resume the challenge after he wins re-election.

    October 21, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  16. Joi Gibson

    Thank goodness. It would have been a waste of time and money.

    October 21, 2013 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  17. Andrew Vrba

    So essentially, "I don't like it, but its the law, and I won't throw a tantrum about it!" Gee, Ted Cruz could learn a thing or three from this.

    October 21, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  18. D

    Brave move for a potential GOP presidential candidate.

    October 21, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  19. Subramanian Venkatraman

    Elections are great! They open the minds of politicians. For once they actually see what people want and change their minds for the same reasons which they could not see till then! What do they expect? People will now vote for them that they have changed their mind? Absolutely not. On the one hand they lose the support of those who had supported them till now and on the other those side they had taken now will laught at the politicians for their vascillation on flimsy justifications. They will remember that this guy is unrealiable and may change his mind again at the drop of a hat. People respect those who have firm views more than those who are second fiddlers.

    October 21, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  20. Jack 2

    I'll give Christy credit for trying. We need to stop the trashing of morals in this country. These other politicians go along with the so called farcwe of gay rights for the votes. This is just a promotion of perversion endorsed by he government at a cost to our children and society.

    October 21, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  21. wendel

    Christie is smart stop beating a dead horse something cruz could learn from.

    October 21, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  22. Lynda/Minnesota

    If this is a recent photo of Christie, he is really starting to look haggard. Having a 20% lead on his opponent must be very stressful for him. Wonder what a presidential bid will do to his stress level? You know, where his lead might never be a lead at all. Especially when he really starts shaking up Mitt Romney's "Etch a Sketch" to pander for votes. Kind of like what he is now doing in N.J.

    He is also starting to come across as a very insecure man, all things considered.

    October 21, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  23. max cady

    He realizes that this is not the way to attract intelligent voters

    October 21, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  24. ERIC

    Leaving it up to a voter referendum is wrong.

    Maybe we could vote slavery back in? or vote to remove voting rights of women.

    The population does not have the right to vote down the rights of a particular group of people. This is why the supreme court removed prop 8 and DOMA. Just because you put it to a vote does not make it constitutional

    October 21, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  25. Jo Se

    Constitutional cowardice.

    October 21, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
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