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.
Booker had asked if anyone had reason to object to the marriage and a protester screamed "This is unlawful in the eyes of God and Jesus Christ."
Booker, who was elected to the U.S. Senate last week, called for the person to be removed and police dragged him out.
Why would Mr. Booker do that, when he clearly asked if anyone objects...I guess this is the new way in this country; we are in the beginning of loosing our freedom of speech, our First Amendment.
14 states down with two more likely to join in the next few weeks (New Mexico and Hawaii). Equality zooms on!
I'm so tired of these "religious" people spewing hatred and bigotry. If there is a GOD he will judge me no you. SO let me live by man's law until I see this "god" of yours, because mine accepts everyone!!
People don't get to vote on civil rights.
And marriage is not a religious thing, it's a legal issue. If a church wants to marry someone or wants to refuse to marry someone, fine. But marriage itself is an issue for the state.
Produce the God you all speak of and have him say out loud that he supports hate and division. You people make the rest of us look like idiots.
Another glorious day in the history of country (in response to Thomas's comment.) In 2013 are finally evolving to civilized society? Or at least heading in that direction? Keep the movement going. One day this will be a non-issue. Religious fanatics please step aside and keep your comments to yourself. You are losing. Love means acceptance thus creating a peaceful world for all.
I agree with Thomas below me.
These inmoral laws are only destroying society.
@Jackson why do you care? It's been proven that people are born Gay, let them have a good life. At least you can't worry about gay couples procreating and making more gays (seems you appear to be against it)
Please quote where I said I was against it? I have been responding to those who are against it and refuting their words. I think you are seriously confused.
This is has been legal in several states for several years. Please show, in detail, exactly how those states in which it is legal have suffered any adverse affects. Compare those states where it is legal with those states in which it is still illegal and show how it has affected anything at all....jobs, growth, finances, anything.....
Go ahead, back up your words with actual evidence to them.
@ Thomas – Yep! All you christians better run for cover as I bet the end is near! Fall on your knees and pray, pray, pray the gay away! Oh wait, you've been doing that for ages already with no luck. Maybe you'd have better luck praying to the tooth fairy or the easter bunny...
NeoKat1: I agree – the laws that prohibit same sex couples from marrying are certainly immoral.
"Give unto Caesar, that which is Caesar's."
And so Jesus had declared those who would dare to use The Word as a excuse to revolt against government hypocrites.
I am glad that as LGBT people are more visible and open, they more and more want to unite in marriage and others more and more want to see them have that commitment, too. It is very Godly for someone to want to commit to the person they love and form a union between the two of them in front of their friends and family. I have been so happy for all of the couples I know that seek to make that commitment rather than remain an unmarried couple, and it's so sad to think that there have been and still are people that want to keep many of these couples unmarried.
I'm glad that all couples who want to are getting closer to being able to partake in the rights and responsibilities of marriage, as marriage is good for us all.
I disagree with Christie. The voters and legislature have about as much right to decide who may get married as they do to vote on if Christie is allowed to have Lap-Band surgery or not. They are both personal, private decisions.
No Republican Gov. Chris Christie can marry butter loaf.
Another perversion of democracy. Another depraved liberal scam decided against the will of the people.
"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," - whatever process takes longest. Hey Christie, you're in the way of progress. Get out of the way, get with where the country is going, and if you can survive a primary challenge by the Tea Party troglodytes, you can be President.
A dark day for New Jersey.
Thomas 'We don't have to accept the secular world around us. God's laws are higher than man's laws.'
Answer to the first sentence: Yes you do. The USA are NOT a teocracy, hence the fact ALL faiths, or the absence of any (atheism, are protected and respected in the USA. Try to live and treat other people (specially those who DON'T follow the same religious principles than you) following only YOUR idea of 'God's Laws'...
Hint: You won't need to worry about shelter and food for a while...
Answer to the second sentence: According to whom dude? I mean, whose 'Laws', the Christian God ones, the Muslim God ones, the...? And let's remember that even among every faith there are divisions and subdivisions, what you perceive as a (Christian) God's law might not be seen as such by another Christian. Who are you to judge another Christian's faith, if he/she disagrees with you, then?
Being gay is a genetic abnormality just as being albino is a genetic abnormality. Do not expect society to rewrite all of its laws and traditions to suit your genetic abnormality. Your genetic abnormality does not allow you to reproduce naturally so this abnormaility would eventually disappear. Unfortunately man has intervened and kept the genetic abnormality from taking its natural course to extinction.
Welcome to the 20th century, New Jersey.
Eliminating discrimation on the basis of race or preference is none of any politicians business. The courts have ruled, and who cares what anyone else thinks.
It is law. I'm sure all Republicans will now vote to shutdown government because of this – that's how they roll when they get their ugly butts kicked.
14 states down with two more likely to join in the next few weeks (New Mexico and Hawaii). Equality zooms on!
Immorality zooms on!
Love is love. There is no differene between same-sex or opposite sex copules.
Jesus never picked and chose which love he celebrates. All are welcome and recognized. Let's dance.
Conserving the status quo is for people who don't believe in evolution, growth, and innovation of society. Who wants to go back to the days of slavery, no electric lights, and no toilet paper? Being a conservative doesn't sound good to me. So, I'm happy to hear of innovation, of people seeking lofty goals, Star Trek ideals and of times when all people are equal.
In different places and times, across the eons of history, these Tea Party types would have been the ones against clothes, wirtten language, arithmetic, and cooked food.