Sen.-elect Cory Booker says he will officiate at weddings of both gay and heterosexual couples as the mayor of Newark now that New Jersey is allowing same-sex marriage.
Booker said in a statement that he is excited to marry couples at City Hall starting at 12:01 a.m. Monday.
"For more than seven years, Mayor Booker has refused all requests to officiate New Jersey marriages because gay couples have been denied that equal right,” his spokesman James Allen said. “Mayor Booker is excited to marry both straight and gay couples in City Hall on Monday morning beginning at 12:01 a.m."
New Jersey's highest court on Friday ruled unanimously to uphold an order that gay weddings must start Monday and to deny a delay sought by Gov. Chris Christie's administration.
Booker, mayor of Newark, was elected Wednesday to the U.S. Senate after Christie called for a special election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg.
Christie had asked the New Jersey Supreme Court to freeze a state judge's ruling legalizing gay marriage until the top court hears the case in January and issues a final decision.
But the court said in its ruling that the state had "not shown a reasonable probability it will succeed on the merits." All seven judges on the court joined the opinion, strongly suggesting they are prepared to accept same-sex marriage permanently.
Christie has said he will comply with the court ruling.
New Jersey on Monday will become the 14th state to permit gay marriage. The District of Columbia has also legalized same-sex marriage.
Judge Mary Jacobson in Mercer County Superior Court in Trenton ruled three weeks ago in favor of several gay couples who had challenged the state's civil union law, finding that it unfairly restricted federal benefits that are guaranteed for heterosexual married couples.
Hayley Gorenberg, a lawyer with Lambda Legal who represents the gay couples, rejoiced at the news: "Take out the champagne glasses - wedding bells will soon be ringing in New Jersey."
Jacobson's ruling made New Jersey the first state to lift a gay marriage ban as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in June to strike down the federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
In asking for a stay, the New Jersey attorney general's office argued that the state would suffer harm if gay marriage were not put on hold pending the appeal.
© 2021 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.