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.
Another pink state
May God have mercy on usa people. Hebrew 12:14 without Holiness we cannot see God. Repent usa.
I think there are bigger problems in the US Govenment than same sex marriage. It's time we focus on WHAT REALLY MATTERS!
he knows he needs this community to support him when he makes a bid for the presidential spot, plus many people cross the river into NJ who may have a very big influence and they are pro same sex marriage. He is playing politics and not governing.
It is unacceptable for judges to make legislation. It is up to the voters by referendum to decide. Otherwise, whether or not it is discriminatory is not a legal matter but the opinion of a single judge.
Have you all noticed that the CNN propaganda machine has stopped with the daily polls? uh, huh....
Since New Jersey took a gargantuan hits in Superstorm Sandy and the loss of their boardwalk by fire, they need all the revenue they can get at this time. Gay marriages should help provide needed tourism dollars now.
thats right it is the law. just as the ACA is law and comfirmed by the USSC as CONSTITUTIONAL
Since New Jersey took a gargantuan hits in Superstorm Sandy and the loss of their boardwalk by fire, they need all the revenue they can get at this time. These marriages should help provide needed tourism dollars now.
Al...you must be the internet version of the guy with a set of boards hanging over his shoulders walking through Times Square. If the end of days are coming I don't think it will be due to gays and lesbians marrying. I think better indications are war, famine and overpopulation...I think you are responsible for the latter.
A strategic political move because he plans to run in 2016.
Good. People need to be left alone to live their lives.
And I always thought the Republicans say they stand for more freedom, less government intrusion, liberty, etc. Interesting how that all goes out the window when "morality" comes up. They want the government out of healthcare, environmental regulations, and anything else they see as restricting people's and corporations' freedoms, but allowing gay people to marry must be stopped at all costs!
Sarcasm, Big Al? Because I am prepared to support polyamorous equality. I hope people remember that being touted and give it serious consideration.
In 49 states either the voters, legislators or state courts have decided whether or not gays can be married in that state. Only California is different because of the cowardly decision by the SCOTUS to refuse to rule on the Proposition 8 amendment to CA's state constitution leaving the 9th Circuit Court as the entity that determines whether or not gays can get married in CA. I am not opposed to gay marriage, but by saying there was no standing the SCOTUS basically said that the citizens of CA did not have the right to decide for themselves what kind of society they want to live in. Apparently this does not apply to the other 49 states.
what about us Clergy who don't want this gay business? Since when does a court tell the Church what is right or wrong concerning marriage between a man and a woman.
Can we just move on, allow marriage equality in all 50 states, and quit wasting time discussing what will be inevitable anyway? And BTW, if you don't like it, don't get married to a person of the same sex. Otherwise mind your own business and quit thinking you actually are granted the right to judge someone else and deem what is acceptable in society. There are so many more important issues to focus on than this silliness.
Big Al, get your sexist, neanderthal self and 2 loves to Saudi Arabia and you will fit right in.
Time for these RINOS to get out of GOP. We need real leaders like Ted Cruz........TEAMERICA
Finally, Christie said something that makes sense. "Same sex marriage is the law".
Now if the rest of the Republicans could say the same thing about the ACA.
Whooop Deee Doooo. Another posturing Republican candidate for president. He doesn't care about his people, he cares about himself.
My God, an elected official who actually put his personal beliefs aside and acted on behalf of the wishes of the people who elected him. What is the world coming to?????
Religious freedom means you get to believe what you like – not that you get to tell others what they should believe or expecting others to change their lives to accommodate your beliefs. The sooner people come to accept that and live accordingly, the better off we will all be. Its called tolerance folks. Please start living it and teaching it to your kids.
If you don't support gay marriage then DON'T FRIGGIN GET GAY MARRIED. It's absolutely NONE of your business and doesn't concern you. It's really that simple.
Christie is a Republican, just like any other Republican.
After costing tax payers millions of dollars in unnecessary legal fees so Christie can battle his own biases, he finally drops the case. Another exampled of Conservatives spending tax payer money needlessly..
Rofl...we live in a country run by Democrats. Deciding issues by letting the people vote is no longer an option.