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In the Garden State, Wedding Bells Chime for Same-Sex Couples

“I think it is a terrific decision,” she said. “It is immensely strong, as it should be and it is what our clients deserve. It is unanimous and goes point by point and analyzes the strength of what we have put forward and what the state has put forward and the fact that the state has neither shown harm nor the likelihood that it will prevail.”

She said the court in January “will consider what is before it” and make its ruling.

“I hope that is the case,” that Friday’s ruling is an indication of how the court might rule in January, she said, “but I would never presume that I could speak for the court or say what they will do.”

While observers say the court’s language was strong, it is less clear how the Legislature will respond. Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) both have said in the past that they planned to schedule override votes on the vetoed marriage-quality bill, but nothing is scheduled and neither mentioned the override in their statements Friday praising the court.

And it remains unclear whether Friday’s decision will spur fence-sitting legislators to change their mind. Marriage-equality legislation (S-1/A-1) passed the Senate 24-16 and the Assembly 42-33. The Senate needs 27 votes and the Assembly 54 votes to override the governor’s veto.

Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said the ruling would “enhance advocates’ position to push for this and to put Republicans on the record,” but it also could lend cover to legislators who would prefer to have someone else make the decision.

Redlawsk agrees. Republicans, he said, may be concerned about “crossing the governor” and the ruling could give them “an opportunity to not have to do it.”

There have been calls for the governor to drop the appeal. Redlawsk said he doesn’t see the governor doing that, especially because he is “clearly running for another office.” It allows him to play to the conservative Republican base nationally and to say it “was not him. It was an activist court that did it.”

For mayors like Delvecchio and Victor DeLuca, of Maplewood, the governor’s national political ambitions are not the point.

“This ruling is probably one of the best rulings anyone who is a prop of same-sex marriage could want,” said Deluca, who will start performing weddings at noon on Monday. "To see [the wedding in Lambertville] today was very heartening.”

“I’m a 57-year-old heterosexual male and, for me, I took it for granted that if I chose to I could get married,” he said.

“For Beth and Joanne, now they are going to be able to have the same dreams and aspirations that heterosexuals have had forever. Beth and Joanne and other gay and lesbian couples. There can finally be full citizenship.”

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