Christie Administration Asks N.J. Supreme Court To Take Appeal On Gay Marriage
TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – The administration of the New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie asked the top state court Monday to take an appeal of a ruling ordering the state to allow gay marriage.
Citing “far-reaching implications,” Acting Attorney General John Hoffman made the request in a letter to the state Supreme Court, which usually does not weigh in on cases until after an appeals court has made a ruling on them.
Hoffman said he is also asking the judge who issued the decision Friday to grant a stay, delaying the implementation date from Oct. 21 until the matter can be settled.
An appeal from Christie’s administration is no surprise. Within hours of the ruling, Christie’s spokesman issued a statement saying he did not intend to let the trial court order stand in an issue in an issue that has been fought repeatedly both in New Jersey’s courts and Legislature.
Advocates for gay marriage did not want Christie, a possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, to continue his fight against allowing same-sex couples to tie the knot in New Jersey. But they do want the issue fast-tracked to the state’s top court if he does continue to fight it.
Democratic legislative leaders said as much at a news conference on Friday.
“We know it’s going there so there should be no delay,” Senate President Steve Sweeney said. “By Oct. 21st, people should know, yes or no. “
Meanwhile Monday, Democrats who control the New Jersey Legislature on Monday called for the state Supreme Court to fast-track a gay marriage decision so same-sex couples waiting to marry would know next month whether they can tie the knot here.
Democrats held a news conference at the Statehouse to urge Christie to drop the appeal – although the Republican governor who is a possible candidate for president in 2016 is unlikely to abandon the fight.
“The governor is a trained attorney,” State Sen. Loretta Weinberg said. “He knows there is no way he can win this appeal. There is no logic behind it.”
Marsha Shapiro is one of the plaintiffs in the case. She joined the legislators on Monday to call for quick resolution to the appeals.
“I am in my late 50s,” she said. “I would like already to marry the love of my life.”
Legislators passed a law last year to allow gay marriage, but Christie vetoed it. At Monday’s news conference, Democrats light-heartedly discussed wedding plans with gay couples in the room, as Sweeney announced plans to post gay marriage for an override vote as soon after the Nov. 5 election. Sweeney said he could count on 27 of 40 senators to vote yes. In the Assembly, 54 of 80 votes would be needed.
That’s three additional votes in the Senate and 12 in the Assembly than when it passed last year.
Democrats control both houses of the Legislature but not by veto-proof majorities. They have never overridden one of Christie’s vetoes.
Republicans rarely support bills that Christie opposes. Still, several said Republican legislators would be allowed to vote how they wanted on the gay marriage override without pressure from the governor.
Two Republicans in the Assembly who were absent for the last vote have indicated their support for the override so far. No Republicans offered comments after the most recent decision, though several Democrats released statements supporting the decision.
Democrats have until mid-January to hold the vote. They have never overridden a Christie veto.
Christie is on record supporting civil unions, which offer gay and lesbian couples benefits of marriage but not the title.
Christie also asked that gay marriage be decided by public vote, but most gay-rights advocates rejected that position, arguing that marriage equality is a civil right that doesn’t belong on the ballot.
Thirteen states allow same-sex marriage. New Jersey’s civil union law has been in effect since 2006.
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