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.
Wow, there is one intelligent Republican, they need to get more.
chrisy rolling the dice that the gop will not be as insane by the time the 2016 primaries roll around......do not know I would take that bet given how many people in Jersey voted for that whacko bird tea party guy against Booker last week.
Just another sign of the end times coming!
People need to stay out of other people's business, you can't tell someone who they can love or marry, just because you don't like it.
There are three branches of government. The legislative branch writes the laws, the executive branch enforces the laws, and the judicial branch interprets the laws. When the judicial branch determines that either of the other two branches are in violation with the constitution, state or federal, it is their job to put it right. It is not "judicial activism," it is what the courts are there to do.
Finally a politician who listens. Right or left, same sex, no sex, whatever, these are the politicians we need. We don't need the ones who won't come to the table. Obama/Boehner should listen and learn.
Who cares what Christie believes in????? He should keep his personal beliefs to HIMSELF. We don't care.
Uh-oh. Guess CNN did a photo switch on me.
When I first commented, yes ... there WAS a photo of Chris Christie.
The marriage laws in NJ are totally discriminatory and this hypocrisy must end!!!
I'm in love with two women. Both love me equally and the three of us want to get married! Yet, for some bigoted, short-sighted reason, the state of NJ dares to dictate whom I'm permitted to love and marry!
The three of us love each other mutually and boundlessly yet we are oppressed.
"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..."
Republicans didn't talk like that back in the 2000 election. Hypocrite.
Now we get watch the marriages of men who like men, and look like women, and women who like women, and look like men. Makes perfect sense. Sure, I'll be this is what nature wants. No chance at procreation whatsoever.
According to Christie's logic, segregation in the South should of been voted on by the southern states
Christie did the right thing here. If you respect our judicial system, you can't just cry "activist judges!" and go into battle mode when you don't like their rulings. Besides, evidence-wise, it's not like the US states with same-sex marriage are seeing their straight marriages collapse in a tsunami of divorce. Isn't that one of the fears that the right-wingers keep barking about?
The Republican/Democrat Party wins again.
Constitutional cowardice appeasing the small group of noise maling amti-Constitution, anti-God crowd.
I smell 2016 run for the WH.
Good for the Fat Man. I like him even though he's a republican. I think that of all of them he actually has a heart and a soul.
Gays got married and God didn't destroy the world a second time. Imagine that. As TP friendly as Christie is, he has more than an ounce of pragmatism in him and has shown it numerous times now. Even as a liberal I admire that.
I do like Christy for standing up against the perversion. Obama flip flopped for votes. This gay rights farce is a result of the perversion of america. There are so many gays in this country now that they carry enough votes to manipulate the law by buying politicians that will sell out for a vote as Obama did. You straights that are for this, are immoral liberal sellouts. You are the trash of society
While Christie's decision to drop the challenge is a purely political move for the election, he should still get credit for serving the will of the people (as expressed in polls) above his own personal beliefs. This is how the system is supposed to work: it is diversity in a politician's constituency that motivates him or her to comprise.
So can someone sit down with the rest of the GOP and remind them that their backwards states also can't just write laws to overrule federal law?
At least Christie knows when to give up....not like those cretins in the Tea Party.
"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"
Your bigotry is upfront and refreshing. Thankfully, it's also the minority view, and guess what? - majority rules in the USA! Full effect!
Meanwhile, Ted Cruz is polishing up his next act of obstructionism. I expect his final words on this Earth to be "From hells' heart I strike at thee!"
Christy stuck to his guns, Obama flip flopped for votes. Who has the most integrity?