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 blow to his Presidential ambitions in 2016.
THAT decision will not play well the Tea Party Poopers.
Finally, a GOP representative who follows the law.....unlike our representatives in Washington.
Don't you just love how those most opposed to same-sex marriage are the same people who shout the loudest about their freedom and keeping government out of their lives?
Christie is betting that the Tea Party's recent debacle in Washington will open the door for a "moderate" Republican to have a shot in a Primary campaign. Jeb will be watching.
I wish he would continue his fight. Homosexuality isn't a civil right, it's a moral wrong.
So he is huge, he is blunt, he is outspoken, he has a certain paradoxical charm: he is also so very WRONG on so many issues. Too bad his opponent does not have the resources to mount a really effective campaign.
I love all the posts stating we are entering the "end times." Take note: these are the same people who thought it was a sign of "end times" when interracial marriage became legal, Jim Crow ended, and we got laws protecting people from employment discrimination. Grow up America. Gay marriage *doesn't matter*, it doesn't affect you unless you're gay.
It's an un-Godly union and NOT a Marrage as defined in the Bible. If your convictions are for the TRUTH than Christie should have resigned in protest. This country is in decline as is the world around us, we have lost our moral compus and are destine to fail as a nation. Our house Iis divided and will fall ,the writting is on the wall.
It is the Governments business when the tax code gives favors to married couples.
The purpose of those tax breaks are to mostly encourage procreation which isn't possible with gay couples, all they can do is adopt (which is a great thing, but not what the tax code was written for).
I wish Christie would switch to Independent or Democrat. He is too good for the GOP.
"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!"
You actually make a point with your cute anti-gay bigotry. If consensual, I see no reason to outlaw polygamy and polyandry. In the case of polygamy, our repugnance has been shaped by fruitcakes in the Mountain West who have coerced underage girls into marriage. But what's the problem for any 3-way gender arrangement between consenting adults? I'd like to hear a coherent, non-Biblical argument against that. Let's face it, continuing wage stagnation may force our descendants into such financially practical arrangements.
Hard to believe that there is a republican voice of moderation
@al If you' people are so sure the end times are coming, why don't you save yourselves some trouble and just check out early? I think the rest of the world would be happier for it.
I think alot of folks get hung up on the sex part of same sex relationships, and can't believe that there can be love like there is in hetro marriages.
Question: How does the government recognizing someone else's marriage in any way infringe on your religious freedom?
Answer: It doesn't
If your religion said that black people were an abomination, would it be ok to pass laws preventing them from getting married?
More, from the in fact Democrat governor.
god bless have mercy on us they do not know your word
And now – in the next version of Jersey Shore.......
This was a very craftily deft move by the governor. He can't publicly support marriage equality or risk getting eaten alive by his party, should he (when he) decides to run for president so he does the public thing, voices opposition to it, vetoes a bill and then challenges a judge's ruling. Then, when it appears he's truly on a fool's errand (at least the wording in the decision, handed down by the NJ supreme court on Friday), THEN he decides to drop the challenge, allowing him to save face when it comes time to run for president, he can faithfully say he "fought the good fight."
You're not a leader, Christie. You're a coward who lied about your true position in order to save your political future. Thanks. Thanks a lot.
Kudos to The governor at least there is still one real republican that respect the rule of law and not insist on what the party dictates.
imagine that. it's the law and someone accepts it. wow
This is sad and why the USA is spiraling down hill! We need statesmen in our government whom are un-wavering from God's word! I'm okay with civil unions but marriages institution of God between a man and a woman! remember in the beginning God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve! sad today but we are living in a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah and we all know what happened to that city. until our government and state realize this is such wrong behavior the United States will never get out of the troubles we are facing today. in the Bible God States " if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, change from their wicked ways I will hear their prayers and heal their land" this is why the United States is going through such tribulation! government leaders you need to stand your ground on our God given principles on what this great nation was once build upon by our founding fathers
The Twenty first century welcomes the Governor to New Jersey.
That's a Shame !!!!