TRENTON, N.J., Oct. 18 (UPI) -- The New Jersey Supreme Court refused Friday to delay same-sex marriage in the state, allowing gay and lesbian couples to start tying the knot next week.
The court rejected Gov. Chris Christie's appeal for a delay in implementing a lower court decision that a ban on same-sex marriage violates the state constitution, The (Newark) Star-Ledger reported. Christie, a Republican, could still win his appeal of that ruling, which would reinstate existing laws on marriage.
Michael Drewniak, Christie's spokesman, said the governor still believes voters should decide on same-sex marriage in a referendum. But he said Christie, who opposes same-sex marriage, accepts the high court ruling and will instruct the state Health Department to cooperate with municipalities.
Local officials in some municipalities appeared eager to hold same-sex weddings. Jersey City and Hoboken officials said offices would open Saturday to allow couples to get licenses, while Princeton said its first weddings will be held Monday.
New Jersey is the 14th state where same-sex marriage is now legal. Gay couples can also marry in the District of Columbia, some counties in New Mexico and in some tribal jurisdictions.
The state legalized civil unions several years ago in response to a court ruling that gays be able to share in the legal rights of married couples.
State Sen. Barbara Buono, the Democratic candidate against Christie in this year's gubernatorial race, hailed the decision.
"This governor needs to step aside," she said. "He's on the wrong side of history and he's been on the wrong side of history for a while. He just needs to let it go."