LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

Before Christie Dropped Appeal, Same-Sex Couples Flocked to City Hall

By David Cruz
NJ Today

It was, needless to say, not your average city hall wedding day. Eight gay couples gathered in the city council chambers in Jersey City, joined by more than 100 family and friends, members of the media and one gubernatorial candidate to join in official matrimony.

“I, Steven M. Fulop, mayor, by the power invested in me by the sovereign state of New Jersey, pronounce these couples enjoined in marriage. Congratulations.”

With those words, the Jersey City mayor made history by officiating over the city’s first same-sex marriages.

Just after midnight, there was still uncertainty mixed with the jubilation. Gov. Chris Christie was still fighting the legality of these weddings, and the ceremony was an act of defiance. David Calle and Peter Connell have been together 13 years.

“You hear people saying that equality should be left up to a popular vote,” said Connell just before the couple took their vows. “I mean if that were the case, we wouldn’t be where we are today. What’s right is different than what everybody wants.”

With polls showing strong support among New Jersey voters and the Supreme Court affirming unanimously on Friday that same-sex couples were not equal under the law in New Jersey, the governor got the message and relented. For gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono, it was an issue that she had hoped would draw a clear line between herself and the governor. David Gibson and Rich Kiamco had invited her to their wedding.

“Her embrace of this cause has energized us and I think it’s part of why we’re here tonight, so we want to stand with her in this important historic moment,” said Gibson as he hugged Buono.

Amy Levine and Nancy Scott have considered themselves married for more than eight years. They said today was a bit overwhelming, but an opportunity to help their fellow New Jerseyans embrace change.

“I was saying that this is really surreal and we’re happy to be a part of it and just to support everyone in the room on such a great day,” said Levine. “This is exciting for all of us. We’ve been waiting a long time.”

Levine joked that the couple would spend their first day as a legally married couple “probably just going to work.”

One of the couples we spoke to this morning predicted that in a very short time, gay people getting married in New jersey would not only be the law, but it would be no big deal, probably not imagining that that day would be today.