TRENTON - The Christie administration asked Monday for a delay in a state court judge's decision allowing same-sex marriage and requested that the case skip the appellate level and be decided by the New Jersey Supreme Court.
In a letter to the court, acting Attorney General John Hoffman said "far-reaching implications" made it necessary for the high court to handle the matter.
Hoffman also requested a stay on Friday's ruling by Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson of Mercer County that same-sex couples be allowed to marry beginning Oct. 21 to give them equal rights under the law, given the June U.S. Supreme Court gay marriage decision.
Democratic state senators who have led the fight against Gov. Christie's opposition to gay marriage also want the state Supreme Court to immediately take up the case, they said Monday. Regardless of what the courts may decide, though, Senate Democrats vowed to continue to pursue an override of the Republican governor's veto of a same-sex marriage bill.
"People have waited a long time. This is the year 2014; we're not in the dark ages," Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) said at a Statehouse news conference attended by same-sex couples. "Let people marry."
Democrats, who have been locked in a bitter dispute with the governor over appointments to the state Supreme Court, have faith in the current justices. Democrats have delayed hearings on Christie's nominees, who are expected to side with the conservative governor on such matters, and the court is now short two of its seven permanent justices. A third justice is scheduled to leave this month.
Regardless of how the issue may end in the courts, Democrats plan an override vote of Christie's veto of a gay marriage bill, which would require approval from two-thirds of each house of the Legislature. Christie said the gay marriage question should be put to voters in a referendum, but Democratic leaders say civil rights shouldn't be put on a ballot.
A bipartisan gay marriage lobbying effort is underway, with supporters hoping for an override vote after the Nov. 5 gubernatorial and legislative elections but before the legislative session ends in January.
Democrats were heartened by the fact that Republican legislators have stayed silent publicly since the Friday court decision.
"They're smart enough to be embarrassed by what they've done, and they should be smart enough to vote on the right side," State Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D., Bergen) said of those Republicans who opposed the gay marriage bill.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Lambertville, who performed one of the state's first civil unions in 2007, told Bloomberg News on Monday that he planned to perform a gay marriage ceremony Oct. 21.