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.
He's trying to salvage his pre-Presidential plan of attack... Remember if you want to become President you have to appeal to the masses. You have to change your belief system to panhandle vote's. You have to butter up to the lobbyists. You need to prime your ringer's and speech creators. When you have that in order you then have to take advantage of the weak to cap off a successful campaign strategy.
"Christie drops challenge to same-sex marriages"
Why, has he found a soul mate?
Too bad the rest of the Republican Party didn't take a similar approach to Obamacare.
First of all same sex does not always have to mean "gay". I can see two people of the same sex who "love" each want to marry for the legal status. Do you know once you marry there are over 1000 legal rights and responsibilities that may be applicable to your situation? I can't believe any "smart" person would be against same sex marriage but I believe the government should not be tied into it to. Let marriage be whatever people want it to be.
More Republicans like him and I'd be back in the GOP. Focus on fiscal responsibility and less governmental intrusion into our lives. The gender of two consenting adults getting married is not my concern.
The thing about Right is- YOU DON'T VOTE ON THEM.
Hooray for New Jersey!
Chris Christie......The MVP of the democrat party! This guy is a spineless flip-flopper. Y'all can have him. We don't want him anymore. He does more for your party than he does for the GOP anyways.
Yeah . . why let people vote on anything, when it's so much easier to let the dictatorship of the courts force things on them that they don't want.?
I now am ashamed to say I live in New Jersey
After more than 40 years since gay people rose up and began marching, we still are barely scratching the surface of letting them get married, treating them with respect, and letting them live happy lives. People still think its fun to criticize them and treat them like they have a disease or something. Gay people will continue to fight for equal rights until people start treating them like human beings. Many still fear showing their true selves in public because there is a chance they will get beat up or worse. We will continually hear about gay people and how they are treated until you actually treat them right. SO get over it already and stop being so insecure with your own sexuality that you fear gay people.
just because same sex marriages are becoming legal does not make it right. Gay and Lesbian relationships are an abomination in Gods eyes and will pay the consequences for it sooner or later... I Pray they repent before its too late: (
Making this a "voters' rights" issue, as if I should be able to decide whom people get to love and and marry is just a smoke screen for continuing prejudice. Are all straight marriages going to fail because gay and lesbian couples can now marry? And all the Bible quotes . . . please, if your god is this mean, who wants him? There are a lot of Christians out there who really follow the teachings of Christ and are probably embarrassed to death of the use of Bible verses to reinforce hate and fear.
Chris Christie......The MVP of the democrat party! This guy is a sp ineless flip-flopp er. Y'all can have him. We don't want him anymore. He does more for your party than he does for the GOP anyways.
As much as gay marriage sickens me, i cant help but think of other messed up groups that are not enjoying "equality". I know a gay male coworker who prides himself on being a gay polygamist with two husbands. They are looking for a fourth husband. When will they be able to all get married?
Transexuals, who supposedly were born in the wrong bodies, have zero equality. In fact, many gays think that trans people are sick in the head. When will transexuals be able to have their sex changes covered by their health insurance? Countries like Iran and Brazil already cover all the costs for sex changes of transexuals because their government believes that tax payer moneys should pay to correct a transexual's "birth defect." When is the US going to offer that "equality"?
Very Good News Indeed. But alas, get ready for all the homophobic, bible-thumping, flag-waving born-again idiots to start posting their hate-filled vitriol here once again. Will they EVER learn that, little by little, this country is waking up and joining the ranks of the rest of the civilized world? Maybe they should quit resisting and acknowledge that, if it's happening at all – and by all accounts, it seems to be, then IT MUST BE the WILL of their god, which as they say – simply cannot be questioned.
Another step in the right direction.
Seriously, if you're gay and want to get married, then do it. Heck, if you're straight and want to get married, then do it. If not, then don't. There shouldn't be any law anywhere dictating whether or not consenting adults can get married or not.
Way to go NJ!
Ok; so we no longer need elected legislators to make the law. All we need is a court of judges and an executive to carry out the court's whims, I mean wishes.
I'm bored with cnn non-stories, so okay, I too would like to hear an argument against polygamy that does NOT involve religous beliefs.
Data is right. Based on the current minimum wage we might have to pull closer together as a "village" lest we starve to death or perish while homeless.
For a republican, this guy is pretty smart. I really wish he would jump ship to at least being an independent. He deserves better than his party can provide and because the GOP is about to go down a drain pipe on a national scale, he should move now before it takes him along for the ride.
This model should be emulated by my home State, IL.
The State Senators have approved, Gov.Quinn Favors, this can help thwart the IL house hold-outs.
For a party that runs on a platform of less government intrusion in American's lives, they sure do like to legislate how other people live their lives.
At least one Republican knows how to follow the law, unlike the moron Repubs in congress who will bring down our government because they hate Obama and the Affordable Care Act
Hey thanks Christie.. You just helped decide how I will vote in 2016. You just showed that you weren't willing to fight the big fight due to your career.
Although you oppose it, you wont do your job and fight for what you feel this country was founded under..
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.
Referendums are supposed to be used for issues like property tax rates, school budgets, and term limits, not determining civil rights. It is immoral to use a public referendum to allow the majority to decide the civil rights of the minority. The minority will always lose.