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Same-Sex Couples Ready To Tie The Knot In New Jersey

State Supreme Court Ruled Gay Marriages Must Be Allowed Effective Monday

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HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Same-sex couples were making plans this weekend to line up for marriage licenses, after the New Jersey State Supreme Court ruled that gay weddings must begin this coming Monday.

As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported Saturday, municipal buildings in several cities and towns across New Jersey added extra office hours Saturday to accept marriage licenses.

With the developments happening so quickly, same-sex couples had plenty of questions.

“Do we have to wait the 72 hours? Or does the fact that we already have a civil union mean that we don’t have to delay?” said Tara Albritton.

Albritton and her partner, Amanda Sinkewitz, showed up at Hoboken City Hall to apply for a license. But they were turned away because their paperwork by regulation needs to be processed where they live.

Still, Sinkewitz said despite the confusion, it is an exciting time.

“It means that I will be more equal,” she said.

In Hoboken, city Registrar Dawn DeLorenzo said the towns are also trying to get up to speed on short notice.

“We don’t even have forms. We still have forms that say male and female,” DeLorenzo said.

She held special Saturday hours, but said hardly anyone showed up.

But many others are eager to get their marriage licenses at the first opportunity. As WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported, Louise Walpin and Marsha Shapiro plan to be the first in line on Monday.

“We are going to get married 12:01 a.m. on Monday the 21st at Senator Raymond Lesniak’s home,” Walpin said.

“We want marriage immediately,” Shapiro added.

Walpin and Shapiro, of South Brunswick, have been together 24 years. With marriage, they will receive the federal benefits afforded to heterosexual couples, and much more.

“This is giving us our dignity, our pride; our first class citizenship,” Shapiro said.

Oscar Madrid and Gregory Valdez have been partners and soulmates for 23 years, CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported.

Next week the rings that they wear as a sign of love will be recognized as a sign of their legal marriage. The couple was first on line at city hall in Jersey City on Saturday to sign up for a marriage license just hours after the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled unanimously to uphold an order that same-sex marriage would be allowed in the state starting at midnight on Monday.

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop called the issue an important one for his city.

“We have the biggest and largest LGBT community in the state of New Jersey here in Jersey City. So, it’s an important issue,” he said.

At 12:01 on Monday morning, Mayor Fulop will conduct the first same-sex ceremony in Jersey City. The mayor said that he plans to officiate several that day.

For Madrid the court’s decision meant validation.

“We feel validated in the eyes of the state of New Jersey. So, we’re happy about that. It really solidifies our relationship,” he said.

Ebony Batts and Lisa Graham were there as well along with their entire wedding party.

The couple wanted their friends to be on hand to witness what they believe Governor Christie had tried to deny them.

“We’re not promised today, we’re not promised tomorrow, so give everybody that shot to be happy,” Batts said.

Newark Mayor and Senator-Elect Cory Booker also planned to marry seven couples on Monday.

Since taking office in 2006 Mayor Booker had not officiated a New Jersey marriage because gay and lesbian couples had been denied the right.

On Friday, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously to uphold a lower-court order that gay weddings must start Monday and to deny a delay that was sought by Gov. Chris Christie’s administration.

“The state has advanced a number of arguments, but none of them overcome this reality: Same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today,” the court ruled. “The harm to them is real, not abstract or speculative.”

WEB EXTRA: Read The Supreme Court Opinion (pdf)

A judge on the lower court had ruled last month that New Jersey must recognize same-sex marriage and set Monday as the date to allow gay weddings. Christie, a Republican who is considered a possible 2016 presidential candidate, appealed the decision and asked for the start date to be put on hold while the state Supreme Court decides the case.

But on Friday afternoon, Christie said he wouldn’t get in the way of this latest court decision.

“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,” Gov. Christie’s spokesman said in a statement.

His administration also asked that the state’s top court take up the appeal of the lower-court ruling, something it agreed to do last week. Oral arguments are expected Jan. 6 or 7.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)