Legislators to hold first same-sex New Jersey marriage at midnight
In the wake of a momentous court ruling upholding a decision that same-sex marriages can be performed in New Jersey beginning Monday, legislators will just before midnight Sunday hold the state’s first such union.
State Sen. Raymond Lesniak and New Jersey Civil Rights Commission secretary Salena Carroll will host at their Elizabeth home the marriage of Louise Walpin and Marsha Shapiro.
State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg will walk the couple down the aisle, while Garden State Equality founder Steven Goldstein will be on hand to provide them with a Jewish blessing.
The ceremony is slated to start around 11:45 p.m.
Roselle Mayor Jamel Holley will legally preside, marrying Marsha and Louise at the stroke of midnight.
The couple, who have been together for 24 years, are both plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by Garden State Equality and Lambda Legal on behalf of six New Jersey same-sex couples and their families demanding the state recognize same-sex marriages.
A state Superior Court judge last month issued a ruling in the case requiring New Jersey to begin recognizing the marriages by Monday, Oct. 21.
Gov. Chris Christie petitioned the state Supreme Court to delay the performance of same-sex marriages pending an appeal of that decision.
Though the court on Friday agreed to hear oral arguments in the case, slated for January, it unanimously declined Christie’s request to delay the marriages.
“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,” Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote in his opinion.
“The harm to them is real, not abstract or speculative.”