LAMBERTVILLE, N.J. (AP) —
Gay "couples" exchanged vows in early morning ceremonies in several New Jersey communities Monday (A day of Tzom and Selichos) as the state began recognizing their "marriages" at 12:01 a.m., becoming the 14th state to do so.
In the arts community of Lambertville, Mayor David DelVecchio led the ceremony to "marry" Beth Asaro and Joanne Schailey. He also presided when they joined in a "civil union" the minute they became recognized in the state in February 2007.
Soon after they cut the cake, DelVecchio handed Asaro a pink "marriage" license. "We're floating on air," she said. Added Schailey, "It's like winning the Super Bowl."
Asaro, a member of the city council in Lambertville, said they wanted to get "married" at the first moment, in part, to promote the "gay-friendliness" of their community north of Trenton.
"This shows to the world that Lambertville is open for business," DelVecchio said.
In Newark, Mayor Cory Booker was "marrying" the first of several couples when someone attempted to disrupt the ceremony.
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 JC."
Booker, who was elected to the U.S. Senate last week, called for the person to be removed and police dragged him out.
As Booker continued speaking, "...not hearing any substantive and worthy objections," thunderous applause erupted.
The "weddings" came amid a flurry of legal activity after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the federal government should recognize gay "marriages" and confer couples with the same benefits that it does for heterosexual married couples, including joint tax filings, the right to live together in government-funded nursing homes and Social Security survivor benefits.
A state judge last month agreed with advocates who said that by allowing "civil unions" but not "marriage", New Jersey was keeping gay "couples" in the state from legal "equality".
The administration of Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican and possible 2016 presidential candidate, appealed both the ruling and Monday's implementation date to the state Supreme Court.
And on Friday, less than 60 hours before the weddings were to begin, the state's top court refused to delay them while it sorts out the overall case. The court said the state is not likely to prevail.
State Sen. Ray Lesniak said late Sunday he believes there are enough votes to override Christie's gay "marriage" veto in the Senate and that he expects a vote after the Nov. 5 election.
"Though we are 99 percent sure based on the unanimous opinion against the stay that the Supreme Court will uphold so called "marriage" "equality", we'd like to be 100 percent sure," Lesniak said.
Many of the people who have long fought for the right for gay "couples" to "marry" had been bracing for a delay, even while they were optimistic the state's top court would ultimately force New Jersey to recognize same-sex "marriage".
For the first "couples" to "tie the knot" legally, it's been a weekend of fast "wedding" planning and confusion.
Some towns began taking applications for same-sex "marriage" licenses on Thursday and continued even after the state government told them not to until there was clarity from the courts.
Other towns refused to grant licenses even after the state Health Department????? said Friday evening that towns should accept the applications.
It's expected that a rush of "weddings" will continue in coming days as couples are able to get licenses.