New Jersey Withdraws Appeal Of Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

And New Jersey makes fourteen, officially.


Just hours after same-sex marriage became legal in the state, an occasion marked by midnight weddings in several cities, Governor Chris Christie’s office has announced that the Administration has withdrawn its appeal of last month’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage:

Gov. Chris Christie announced today that he was dropping the fight against same-sex marriage in New Jersey by withdrawing his his appeal of a major case that was being heard by the state Supreme Court.

Across the state, gay couples have been getting married today for the first time in New Jersey after the Supreme Court refused on Friday to delay the first weddings while it heard Christie’s appeal of a lower-court ruling that legalized gay marriage last month.

Christie said the court, in rejecting his plea for a stay, had made strong statements that settled the larger case.

Colin Reed, a spokesman for Christie, said that Chief Justice Stuart Rabner, writing for the court in a 7-0 opinion last Friday, “left no ambiguity about the unanimous court’s view on the ultimate decision in this matter when he wrote, ‘same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today.’ ”

But at the same time, Christie sharply criticized the court for stepping in and ruling on the case. The Republican governor, a potential presidential candidate in 2016, has maintained that he wanted voters to take up the issue on the ballot.

“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,” Reed said. “The governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court.”

As I noted on Friday when the Supreme Court’s ruling came out, the tone of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Administration’s request for a stay made it clear where they stood on the merits of the case, and rather obvious what the ultimate outcome of the case would be. In some sense, pursuing the appeal any further would’ve been little more than a waste of resources. For that reason alone, it’s not surprising that Christie would make the decision to withdraw the appeal at this point. Politically, it has the advantage of him being able to say that he put up the fight in defense of existing law but decided to back away when it became evident that appeal would ultimately be unsuccessful. It also has the advantage of putting the same-sex marriage issue behind him, at least in New Jersey. On the national level, assuming he does run in 2016, he can tell the right that he put up the fight and that he supports the idea of letting the states decide the issue themselves. Because, of course, if this issue is decided nationally it will happen at the Supreme Court of the United States, and quite possibly before the 2016 election.

Legally, this means that New Jersey is now officially the 14th state to recognize same-sex marriage. With the appeal dropped, the case is now moot and the rulings from the trial court and the Supreme Court are the law of the land in the state. Now, I guess, we move on to wondering which state will be number fifteen.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Law and the Courts, US Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. grumpy realist says:

    I’m hoping Illinois, but it’s probably going to be another obviously blue state. We’ve just got started here.

    Has anyone done any analysis yet on the economic benefits of legalizing SSM? I can see large corporations, when deciding to open a new location, take into consideration whether their entire workforce will be protected or not.

    And I can also see a corporation deciding NOT to move away from a blue state even though the taxes might be higher because of the uncertainty over the status of the marriages of its gay employees. (And lack of protection in the new state.)

    (To all gays: specialize in an expertise that makes you very truly run after and essential to your company. Make it clear that if they ever try to move the company to some troglodyte location that won’t protect your rights that you will leave, tout suite.)

  2. Hal 10000 says:

    Christie, if nothing else, can read the writing on the wall. At the rate the opposition to gay marriage is crumbling, I think this might not even be an issue by 2016.

  3. C. Clavin says:

    Has anyone done any analysis yet on the economic benefits of legalizing SSM?

    You mean besides the fact that it marks the end of civilization? (as does Obamacare, I hear)

  4. Ben says:

    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 elected branches in NJ DID make a judgment on same-sex marriage. You vetoed it, you pompous gasbag. Oy vey.

  5. Argon says:

    Predictably, Rod Dreher is sad about the gay in NJ because ‘undemocratic’.

  6. Argon says:

    I bet 50 Quatloos that Hawaii goes next and through their legislature.

  7. Franklin says:

    As Doug said, this is basically a win-win, for both SSM proponents and for Christie. Christie doesn’t give up any ‘credentials’.

  8. rudderpedals says:

    So this continues on to trial. Cristie gets to say the state of play favored abandoning the appeal for tempo relief, and that he did all he could to tactically position for a win @ trial.

  9. grumpy realist says:

    @Argon: Rod Dreher is so immersed in a bath of his own privilege he doesn’t even understand what the First Amendment means. Or law, for that matter.

  10. Dave D says:

    @grumpy realist: I haven’t seen any studies but I know that one of the biggest economic effects here in Iowa, was that couples from out of state would come here to get married. And it must have worked since Minnesota has been trying to convince rich people from Chicago to go up there and get married and spend money. However, I haven’t seen anything that wasn’t directly related to tourism and the benefit of that is bound to decrease as more states legalize.

  11. anjin-san says:

    Off topic, but perhaps worth its own post

    Fox News Reportedly Used Fake Commenter Accounts To Rebut Critical Blog Posts

  12. @rudderpedals:

    Actually, this is the end of the case. The trial court already made its ruling, that ruling was appealed to the Supreme Court of New Jersey along with a request that the Court issue a stay on the trial court’s order making SSM mandatory as of today. On Friday, the Court denied the stay in an order that made it clear how they’d rule on the merits, so Christie withdrew the appeal of the main case. There will likely be no further proceedings in this matter outside of an order dismissing the appeal

  13. C. Clavin says:

    @ anjin-san….
    You have to ask…when taken with this recent report…why would thinking people even watch them???

  14. Woody says:

    This might turn out to be a positive development for the Republican Party, depending on how their leaders (and their followers) handle this.

    There must be some issues that the less-radical can show the general population that the Party is capable of moderation. I don’t doubt that many devout Republicans will continue to oppose same-gender marriage (there are an appreciable number of the devout who are still not comfortable with women’s equality), and promote politicians who share those views. However, women’s equality is largely a non-issue within the professional GOP – though this is not universally shared throughout their voting bloc.

    The same will be true with same-gender marriage, over time, as it becomes more commonplace.

  15. C. Clavin says:

    @ woody…
    I think you have to look at the states that have it…and the states still fighting tooth and nail against modernity.
    Someone can check me but I think it’s all of New England, NY, and NJ…DC, Maryland, Delaware…Minnesota, Iowa, California and Washington State.
    The South is still the South. If they can’t accept that black feller in the White House they sure as hell ain’t gonna let them queers destroy their civilization!!!! No, siree, Bob.

  16. An Interested Party says:

    From Argon’s link, the perfect rebuttal to the charge that all of this isn’t democratic…

    SSM was passed by New Jersey’s legislature, so in what sense is this really anti-democratic? Were it not for Chris Christie’s presidential aspirations, it would be a done deal. Why should New Jersey citizens (who support SSM 2:1 in polls) be held hostage to Christie’s desire to accommodate presidential primary voters in South Carolina?


  17. I’ve never thought Christie was so strong an opponent that he’d try to push the issue, even with a court ruling. He’s no fundamentalist.

  18. alanmt says:

    Yay! Illinois is my guess for next state. Pennsylvania is starting to look surrounded.