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NJ Top Court Refuses To Block Gay Weddings; Gov. Christie Agrees To Comply

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David Madden David Madden
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By David Madden, Cleve Bryan, Todd Quinones

ASBURY PARK, N.J. (CBS) — With a court order mandating gay marriage in New Jersey (see related story) and the state Supreme Court today refusing to issue a stay on that order (another related story), some towns have begun the paperwork process to meet the Monday implementation deadline.

The seven-member New Jersey Supreme Court today issued a unanimous ruling that a stay of a lower court order would not be in the public interest after  the State of New Jersey failed to demonstrate how gay marriages would harm the state.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he disagrees with it, but he will comply with the ruling.

“The Supreme Court has made its determination.  While the Governor firmly believes that this determination should be made by all the people of the State of New Jersey, he has instructed the Department of Health to cooperate with all municipalities in effectuating the order of the Superior Court under the applicable law,” Governor Christie’s Press Secretary said in a statement.

Asbury Park officials confirm they are processing license requests from gay couples in compliance with Judge Mary Jacobson’s order.

Collingswood also began accepting same-sex marriage applications with an eye to start issuing licenses on Monday, when Judge Jacobson’s order takes effect.  New Jersey has a 72-hour waiting period before ceremonies can be performed.

Collingswood mayor Jim Maley says there has been a lack of guidance from the New Jersey attorney general  on the topic.

“The court’s decision, we think, is very clear that people can be married beginning Monday.  And so, in order to make that happen, we’re going through the administrative process,” Maley said today.

When the court made the ruling Friday afternoon, it lifted the cloud of uncertainty above couples like Anthony Murabito and Keith Mullineaux, who were first to fill out a marriage application.

“It’s just nice that we can finally go through with it and actually have a certificate that can prove that we are married,” says Murabito.

Down the street from Collingswood Borough Hall on Haddon Avenue, LGBT rights pioneer Diane Marini celebrated the fact same-sex couples can get married.

In 2002, Marini and her partner Marilyn Maneely joined six other LGBT couples in suing New Jersey for the right to marry.

Maneely succumbed to ALS in 2005, so Marini won’t enjoy the benefit of getting married she fought to achieve for more than a decade.

“It’s been a slow go,” says Marini, “we watched Massachusetts come in as the first one and all the other ones following behind so it’s very exciting the fact that the momentum has got to this point and so many people are on board now.”

And Lambertville, NJ has also been getting some requests, according to councilwoman Beth Asaro.  But, she adds, “We are not yet accepting any applications until 12:01 Monday morning.”

Meantime, there is a loophole in the state law which would allow same-sex couples already wed in other states to bypass the waiting period.  So Asaro and her wife, Joanne Schailey — who were the first same-sex couple to obtain a “civil union” in New Jersey and were also married in New York — hope to be the first same-sex couple married in New Jersey, just after midnight Sunday night.

“We never thought it would happen in our lifetime. We met in 1986. We just didn’t want to get fired from our jobs and didn’t want our families to hate us. I mean, you know, that was our goal, was to survive,” Asaro said.

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