October 21st, 2013
10:19 AM ET
9 years ago

Christie drops challenge to same-sex marriages

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.

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"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.

Filed under: Chris Christie • New Jersey • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (302 Responses)
  1. Rational

    At least he follows the law unlike Pres. Obama in refusing to defend DOMA.

    October 21, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  2. RickN

    Thank you Chris Christie! A republcan that respects the LAW? How refreshing! Now, take cruz by the scruft of his neck and present reality to him.

    October 21, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  3. Alex

    Christie, the elected branches DID vote through gay marriage – and you vetoed it. Do you not remember that constitutional vote of the elected branches? Also, it's completely constitutional for the courts to overturn unconstitutional laws (and also constitutional for your to veto what the legislature voted for, to be clear). I understand why you may not like the judicial branch, but it should be there.

    October 21, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  4. S. B. Stein

    Christie is doing this because it could rally people against him in the election. That is also part of the reason why the special election to fill Lautenberg's seat wasn't done with the regular election. Christie didn't want to win by a mere 5 to 10 points. He wants a huge win for when he runs for president.

    October 21, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  5. chris

    Again, the courts decided the law, not the people of the state. Put it to a vote...

    October 21, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  6. Rudy NYC


    If your religion said that black people were an abomination, would it be ok to pass laws preventing them from getting married?
    Not in this country.

    Try reading the 1st Amendment some day. It defines a society that allows freedom of religion for the people and freedom from religion for the government. In other words, your religious beliefs are meaningless when it comes to making the laws that define this nation.

    October 21, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  7. jeff

    this was a long time coming and although i agree with his decision the way he's gone about it is clearly to appease his republican base while attempting to garner more support from those generally voting democrat. although i wish he straight out said he has changed his mind on the issue, this was a smart move overall and so far he's going to be hard to beat.

    October 21, 2013 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  8. SDNJ

    Can CNN do some research please. NJ never had a ban on Same-Sex Marriage and this case did not abolish a so called "ban".

    October 21, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  9. JeffG

    If my religion stated ANY color was an abomination, and the constitution followed the same values, ABSOLUTELY I would oppose the voting for it. If the constitution allowed it, yet my religion felt it was an abomination, I would be ok with it being accepted into law, but I WOULD NOT support it.

    My God comes before anything and everything in life (including family and children)... But as an American, I can honor my God, while accepting the leadership of my Government; But that does not mean I will support their policies.

    October 21, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  10. PM Ohio

    Moving to the middle for a run at the Presidency. Of all of the GOP "candiates" for President, at least Christie thinks like a Conservative, but lives in the real world and understands that lawmakers must uphold the law, even if they don't agree with it in principle. 1st time in a while a GOP leader outside the Senate, uses thier own brain before consulting with the Koch brothers or threats by the Tea Party. I don't agree with most of his policies, being liberal, but at least I can respect his views, because they are his views, not paid for by others.

    October 21, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  11. Chris

    Marriage comes from religion and there for is the definition of a man and a woman. The term did not come from the state so in technical terms anything else is not marriage. That is kind of the silly part.

    October 21, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  12. Jim Brody

    He sees his political future and has now realized it ain't with the Tea Party.

    October 21, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  13. NeoKat1

    America is doomed!! Society takes a huge blow when people start seeing what is wrong and inmoral as right.

    October 21, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  14. John Paul

    For God gave them up... (i.e., since they insisted on running toward error, God gave them over to it and stopped trying to help them... and they destroyed themselves.

    Romans 1: 26-31 "For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

    And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done."

    October 21, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  15. John

    I think gay people in NJ should vote against Christie just to send him a message. That bigotry will always cost you votes.

    October 21, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  16. bspurloc

    "Marriage comes from religion and there for is the definition of a man and a woman."
    Um MARRIAGE predates religion... so exactly HOW did marriage come from religion? Oh yeah it DIDNT.
    religion did what we non terrorists call HIJACKED religion. try to get your facts straight.

    October 21, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  17. James

    Awesome! Rights for all actually includes everyone. State by state...

    October 21, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  18. bspurloc

    Marriage predates religion. religion hijacked marriage.

    October 21, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  19. Jackson


    Again, the courts decided the law, not the people of the state. Put it to a vote...


    If New Jersey put it to a vote that Republicans would not be allowed to run for Governor, and the majority of the voters approved it, would that be ok with you? After all, nowhere in the Constitution does it say Republicans can hold a governorship. So, majority would rule, and the GOP would be happy with that, right?

    Guess again!

    October 21, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  20. Chris

    God loves everyone yes! But my beliefs and your beliefs are different as I can clearly see, but don't ever think that you can get on here and tell me or the rest of the American people who belive that marriage is between man and woman to keep our beliefs to ourselves, look at you on here saying what you believe talk about being a hypocrite. And for Gov. Christie you should change your political status to Democrat and start supporting abortion and gay marriage and out of control spending like the rest of the liberals!!!

    October 21, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  21. FrankA

    Another one bites the dust.

    October 21, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  22. scott

    the law was/is wrong... u dont get to vote on ones civil rights...we fought a war over that 150yrs ago and rightiosness won out...if u dont like it, well, nobody will stop u ifu leave...hey, there are 2 places who are noteworthy, for their hatred of homosexuality,,,,iran and russia, go live there. what is the big deal if 2 gay dudes or 2 gay women want to get married??? are they asking u for money or food??? live and let live

    October 21, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  23. Jackson


    Marriage comes from religion and there for is the definition of a man and a woman. The term did not come from the state so in technical terms anything else is not marriage. That is kind of the silly part.


    1) The United States is not a theocracy, so one religion's opinions have no say in law.

    2) Unless someone can step forward and prove they own the patent on marriage, the copyright on marriage, or the trademark on marriage, they do not have a legal standing in this issue. It really IS just that simple.

    October 21, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  24. Wake up People!

    Don't trust this huge wolf in sheeps clothing dems. He's a republican through and through.

    Don't be fooled dems. They could dip him chocolate and he could be 14 kt gold and I still wouldn't EVER vote for him. Remember how he acted when he wanted Willards #2 position......? I do. And I totally remember his blatant disrespect for the POTUS, at least until he needed him.

    October 21, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  25. ME

    It's up to God now to veto the policy with fire and brimstone.

    October 21, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
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