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Same-sex couples head to the altar after New Jersey ruling on gay marriage

Following a state Supreme Court ruling, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and other officials will begin officiating at same-sex weddings Monday. The court rejected Governor Chris Christie's request for a delay.

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Leigh Nachod, Megan Nachod, Ed Cameron, Dennis Gaspari, Renai Hall, and Rose Papa cheer as they apply for marriage licenses at the municipal building in Cherry Hill, N.J. Friday. New Jersey's highest court ruled unanimously to uphold an order that same-sex marriages must start Monday and denied a delay that had been sought by Gov. Chris Christie.

Elizabeth Robertson/The Philadelphia Inquirer/AP

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Beginning at 12:01 a.m. Monday morning, US Senator-elect and Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker (D) will do something he’s never done before: officiate at weddings.

“Mayor Booker has refused all requests to officiate New Jersey marriages because gay couples have been denied that equal right,” Mayor Booker’s office announced Friday. “After today’s wonderful news, Mayor Booker is excited to marry both straight and gay couples in City Hall on Monday morning.”

The “wonderful news” Booker spoke of was the unanimous ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court that such marriages can proceed without delay. Gov. Chris Christie (R) had sought a delay until the case can be heard on appeal, but New Jersey’s high court rejected that.

"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," the court said in an opinion by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner. "The harm to them is real, not abstract or speculative."

If the lower court ruling in favor of gay marriage is upheld as expected (given the strong statement by the state’s Supreme Court justices in its ruling this week) New Jersey would become the 14th state plus the District of Columbia now allowing same-sex couples to marry.

The issue has put Gov. Christie in a tough political spot.

New Jersey State Sen. Barbara Buono who is running against Christie for governor and whose daughter is openly lesbian, accused Christie of delaying the inevitable for political gain, CBS New York reports.

"We have to stop treating our gay brothers and sisters as second-class citizens," Sen. Buono said. "My daughter should not have to go into another state to marry the person she loves, and I personally am offended by his stance."

Next door in Pennsylvania, meanwhile, the legal fight over gay marriage continues.

A state judge ruled last month that marriage licenses will no longer be given out to same-sex couples in the state, putting into limbo the legal status of more than 100 couples who married recently despite a long-standing ban on same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania.

In recent weeks, at least eight county clerks in New Mexico have begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples while state courts wrestle with the implications of the US Supreme Court ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which had restricted the rights of gay couples. Officials in Oregon have just announced that the state will recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

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