(UPI) -- New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie officially withdrew his appeal to the State Supreme Court against a decision to allow same-sex marriages in his state Monday morning, just hours after gay couples began wedding at midnight.
"Although the governor strongly disagrees with the court substituting its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches or a vote of the people, the court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey Constitution and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law,” Christie's office said in a statement. “The governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court.”
Christie had said he would challenge a decision by a State Superior Court last month, which cited the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and clear the way for same-sex couples to receive the same federal benefits afforded to heterosexual couples.
Judge Mary C. Jacobson, whose decision overruled Christie's veto of a legislature-passed law allowing same-sex marriages, argued that the state ban on those unions was in violation of the Supreme Court's decision.
Marriages were set to begin Monday after Christie's petition to stay the decision pending appeal was denied.
Fourteen states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages, and some seven states grant couples some legal status.
Across the state, couples jumped to officially tie the knot as midnight passed and the last bit of red tape cleared away.
Essex County Superior Court Judge Patricia Costello cleared the way for some couples to wed immediately by signing waivers that allowed them to skip the mandatory 72-hour waiting period between obtaining a marriage license and getting married. Other couples who were legally married in other states did not have to wait, as they already had a license.
In Newark, Mayor Cory Booker officiated the weddings of seven gay couples and two heterosexual couples. Booker, who won the seat left empty by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg in a special election last week, had refused to perform heterosexual marriages so long as the privilege was denied to same-sex couples.
One protester interrupted the ceremonies in Newark, shouting "This is unlawful in the eyes of God and Jesus Christ" after Booker asked if anyone had objections.
After police dragged the protester from the room, Booker continued, saying he was "... not hearing any substantive and worthy objections."