October 21st, 2013
10:19 AM ET
11 months 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. NameFrank Deery

    Christie, like Obama in 2012, flip-flopped to
    save his political butt. If a President and Governor pander for votes over their principles, we few to lead the way. Senator Cruz did stand his ground, but got clobbered by the very media which gave us four more Lousey years of Obama!

    Christie is over for 2016. What happens in Jersey, stays in Jersey!

    October 21, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  2. tom l.

    @Data,
    I couldn't agree more about polygamy. They should have every right to marry. So why isn't the left as fervent about their rights? I know why. Because they don't have the money that the gay community has so their rights get trampled on. Also, shouldn't brothers be able to marry their brothers? Sisters should be able to marry their sisters. That would be the consistent position.

    October 21, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  3. DavidInVancouverWA

    Glad to see Governor Christie drop this matter. SSM is coming to a state near you – it's inevitable, thank goodness. Religious objectors can still voice their disapproval – I have no problem with that, especially since I know the objections will die down once people realize the earth isn't going to be destroyed by an all-powerful being, and that the sun still rises each and every day. Besides - most of those objecting are eagerly awaiting the rapture, so why would they object to something that (in their view) will bring about a quicker end? Just doesn't make sense to me why this is a problem for anyone.

    October 21, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  4. doug

    Governor Christie a day late and dollar short on this issue. He's dropping his "legal" challenge because it was ILLEGAL. He had no legal basis for the position. Never did. At least he decided not to waste more tax payer money on promoting bigotry and hatred and trying to "warm up the base." The good news is, the Tea Party will see this as "capitulation" and they will hammer him to death and destroy is primary campaign. He might as well forget about the nomination now.

    October 21, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  5. Fair is Fair

    anonymous

    Being gay is a genetic abnormality just as being albino is a genetic abnormality.
    -------–
    I doubt it. Such a gene, if it existed, would have been flushed out of the gene pool millenia ago.

    October 21, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  6. livinginva

    anonymous:
    First – Albinos are allowed to marry. Would you be OK with laws saying they couldn't?
    Second – Gay people aren't sterile. They can reproduce naturally.
    Third – How has man intervened? Most gay people are born to straight parents. There have been gay people in every society, no matter how persecuted they are.

    October 21, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  7. Larry in Houston

    IF he expects to get re-elected – then it would be in his best interest to drop the challenge

    October 21, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  8. Reasonably

    Hurray for common sense.

    October 21, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  9. StafCoyote

    Message to the so-called witnessing Christians:
    You do not have the right to impose your beliefs on others. The fundamental rights of an invidual (including the right to marry) are not to be infringed, abridged, or denied to assuage the religious discomforts of militant sectarians. Your free exercise rights end when your invocation of them interferes with the rights of others.

    October 21, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  10. Robert N. constant

    Christie is interested in one thing only: Christie. You can be sure that whatever position he takes is calculated to advance his own political aspirations. He is a bully and cares little for the rights of others.

    October 21, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  11. bcw

    Loe
    Another perversion of democracy. Another depraved liberal scam decided against the will of the people.
    --------------
    Leo, human rights is not something that majority wins. For instance, human rIghts cannot be casted in a ballots and vote against. Discrimination is WRONG, plain and simple, even the majority of the people approve it. Otherwise some southern state might still allow slavery. You better check your skin color before you travel south.

    October 21, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  12. Sigh

    I don't care about whether gay marriage is allowed or not, but that it continually requires the courts to force it often against the will of the People is troubling. And I know, "majority can't blah blah blah." Well, the government only exists by will of the People. If the government continues to spurn the majority, the majority will eventually get fed up. Our government is so dysfunctional... A Congress that continually tries to destroy our economy, a President who is as or more corrupt than the Washington he claimed he'd change, a judicial system that mocks justice and spurns the voice of the People. Either the People fix the problem (however that must happen) or the USA is headed the way of all empires before it, into oblivion.

    October 21, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  13. newway2013

    I guess we should just redefine marriage all together...I mean, it’s CRAZY to think that only two people can marry-why not three? Cause three IS better than two. SO, what if two men marry, ask a women to join, who also wants to marry her dog. AND now they’re' two men, a women, and a dog...who all love their kid. Um, EQUALLY, (can’t forget that). Who they adopted, cause they couldn’t pro-create, unless one of the gay man lands the women, who really loves the dog…holy crap, where does the love stop?!?!? Yup, sounds like one happy family. Maybe there should be new show called, The Most Recent Modern Family. Crazy right?

    October 21, 2013 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  14. Data Driven

    @tom l.,

    "I agree more about polygamy. They should have every right to marry. So why isn't the left as fervent about their rights? I know why. Because they don't have the money that the gay community has so their rights get trampled on. Also, shouldn't brothers be able to marry their brothers? Sisters should be able to marry their sisters. That would be the consistent position."

    Ever the false equivalence, eh Tom? Consensual relationships between adults equals incest?

    At least stop pretending you're some kind of "libertarian" and just fully declare yourself as a card-carrying member of the Republican base.

    October 21, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  15. Michael M

    Today gay marriages begin in New Jersey... I could not be happier for all those couples but I am still sad for the other couples in the other 36 states that are denied this right ( to marry the one they love ).

    We live in the greatest country in the world but for some reason this country has the worst recorded for doing what is right in a timely manor... Freeing the slaves, giving women the right to vote and now giving all gay couples the right to marry the one they love.

    October 21, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  16. Fred

    The GOP cant win elections because they look down on everyone who is either poor, non-white, female, or a immigrant whether legal or otherwise.and at the same time talk out the other side of their mouth about" family values" key of which is respect for ALL, not some, the only the haves, and not the have nots, ALL.

    until that changes, they will never win the WH again, and that is a good thing, we are a nation of equality, not us and thems...

    October 21, 2013 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  17. Dan J

    Chris Christie didn't filp-flop. His opinions haven't changed. He wanted the issue to be decided by the people in a vote. That didn't happen. He had no other legal recourse, so he dropped the appeal. His personal opinions haven't changed. I also have to say that being pro civil unions is a very moderate position.

    October 21, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  18. PushingBack

    Oh my god, toasters will now be able to marry chickens in New Jersey. God will clearly send a warning sign of the end of the world and this horrible sign will likely become a hit series on MTV. It will probably involve the governor developing his own force of gravity and destroying the Jersey shore with tidal waves. Lord knows everything else has tried to destroy this area.

    October 21, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  19. Sigh

    @Data
    "Consensual relationships between adults equals incest?"

    No, but it doesn't preclude it either. After all, the argument is the same whether it is polygamy or incest or polyamory... Consenting adults should be allowed to boink and marry whomever they like.

    October 21, 2013 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  20. b

    Gay marriage is between two equal, consenting adults. Polygamous marriage is banned because the multiple wives are victims of the dictator husband. Don't waste your time comparing apples and oranges.

    October 21, 2013 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  21. Jackson

    StafCoyote

    Message to the so-called witnessing Christians:
    You do not have the right to impose your beliefs on others. The fundamental rights of an invidual (including the right to marry) are not to be infringed, abridged, or denied to assuage the religious discomforts of militant sectarians. Your free exercise rights end when your invocation of them interferes with the rights of others.

    ____________

    Can I get an AMEN up in here????

    October 21, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  22. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Fair is Fair

    anonymous

    Being gay is a genetic abnormality just as being albino is a genetic abnormality.
    ---–
    I doubt it. Such a gene, if it existed, would have been flushed out of the gene pool millenia ago
    -------------------------------------------------
    Really? The gay gene if it existed would've been flushed out of the gene pool millenia ago?
    Why?
    How so?
    And by whom Fair?
    Your, er, intolerance is showing again Fair.

    October 21, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  23. Data Driven

    @Sigh,

    No, but it doesn't preclude it either. After all, the argument is the same whether it is polygamy or incest or polyamory... Consenting adults should be allowed to boink and marry whomever they like."

    Actually, biology precludes incest by damaging and, according to some studies, eventually sterilizing a species.

    Humanity has experimented with all forms of personal unions, including polyamory, all with varying degrees of success, depending on the needs of the culture in question.

    Don't misunderstand me; I'm not "for" polyamory. I imagine being married to my two ex-wives and I want to die. I'm just asking questions. I'm trying to get the wingers to think their positions through a little more carefully.

    October 21, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Dan J

    Chris Christie didn't filp-flop. His opinions haven't changed. He wanted the issue to be decided by the people in a vote. That didn't happen. He had no other legal recourse, so he dropped the appeal. His personal opinions haven't changed. I also have to say that being pro civil unions is a very moderate position.
    -------------------–
    Being "pro-civil unions" is a highly unconstitutional position. The SCOTUS had to strike down the concept "separate but equal" down for a second time.

    It is atrociously immoral to conduct a public referendum on civil rights of a minority population. The minority will almost always lose to the majority. Public referendums are for property taxes, school budgets, term limits, etc., never for civil rights.

    October 21, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  25. just saying

    b
    Gay marriage is between two equal, consenting adults. Polygamous marriage is banned because the multiple wives are victims of the dictator husband. Don't waste your time comparing apples and oranges.
    ---–

    ???? obviously b doesn't understand the meaning of the words consenting adults. so it is your contention that all women are incapable of loving a man if there is another woman in the relationship and she has to be forced to do it? you sound like a real man hater with your statement. stop projecting your hatred onto others.

    October 21, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
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