Chris Christie Appeals Gay Marriage Ruling To Higher Court
By ANGELA DELLI SANTI and GEOFF MULVIHIL
TRENTON, N.J. – Gov. Chris Christie's administration on Monday asked New Jersey's top state court to take an appeal of a judge's ruling that the state must allow gay marriage.
Citing "far-reaching implications," Acting Attorney General John Hoffman made the request in a letter to the state Supreme Court, which usually does not weigh in on cases until after an appeals court has made a ruling on them.
Hoffman said he is also asking the judge who issued the decision Friday to grant a stay, delaying the implementation date from Oct. 21 until the matter can be settled.
An appeal from Christie's administration is no surprise. Within hours of the ruling, Christie's spokesman issued a statement saying he did not intend to let the trial court order stand in an issue in an issue that has been fought repeatedly both in New Jersey's courts and Legislature.
Advocates for gay marriage did not want Christie, a possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate, to continue his fight against allowing same-sex couples to tie the knot in New Jersey. But they do want the issue fast-tracked to the state's top court if he does continue to fight it.
Democratic legislative leaders said as much at a news conference on Friday.
"We know it's going there so there should be no delay," Senate President Steve Sweeney said. "By Oct. 21st, people should know, yes or no. "
Last week's ruling by Judge Mary Jacobson sided firmly with six same-sex couples and the gay rights group Garden State Equality. They argued that by denying same-sex marriage rights, the state is blocking its lesbian and gay couples benefits that the federal government is now allowing in light of a June ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Christie's administration contends that it's the federal government, not the state, that should be held responsible for denying the benefits.
The issue is still being contended in the Legislature, too.
Lawmakers passed a law last year to allow gay marriage, but Christie vetoed it. At Monday's news conference, Democrats light-heartedly discussed wedding plans with gay couples in the room as Sweeney announced plans to post gay marriage for an override vote as soon after the Nov. 5 election. Sweeney said he could count on 27 of 40 senators to vote yes. In the Assembly, 54 of 80 votes would be needed.
Democrats control both houses of the Legislature but not by veto-proof majorities. They have never overridden one of Christie's vetoes and have until mid-January to hold the vote.
Christie has said repeatedly that he favors civil unions, which offer gay and lesbian couples benefits of marriage but not the title.
Christie also asked that gay marriage be decided by public vote, but most gay-rights advocates rejected that position, arguing that marriage equality is a civil right that doesn't belong on the ballot.
Thirteen states allow same-sex marriage. New Jersey's civil union law has been in effect since 2006.
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Same-sex marriage proponent Kat McGuckin of Oaklyn, New Jersey.
New York City (AFP) - A judge has ordered the Northeastern US New Jersey to allow gay marriage, saying a ban goes against a historic Supreme Court ruling earlier this year.
Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ruled that such marriages should be authorized as of October 21, writing that "same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey Constitution."
Gay couples in this small East Coast state have been able to enter into civil unions.
But in her decision Friday, Jacobson wrote that such unions kept gay couples from enjoying federal benefits.
Whereas before June's Supreme Court ruling "same-sex couples in New Jersey would have been denied federal benefits regardless of what their relationship was called, these couples are now denied benefits solely as a result of the label placed upon them by the state," she said.
The US Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which prevented same-sex couples from enjoying the same rights as heterosexual couples.
New Jersey's Republican governor, Chris Christie, vetoed a bill to legalize gay marriage last year and his office indicated it would appeal Jacobson's decision.
The ruling marked the first time a judge used the recent Supreme Court decision to allow gay marriage in a state that bans it.
Experts say similar moves in other states could follow suit.
Thirteen US states and the capital Washington allow same-sex marriage in the United States.
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Pasta baron apologizes for anti-gay comments
Barilla, the world's leading pasta maker, and Chairman Guido Barilla have issued an apology for anti-gay remarks the chairman made.
"Through my entire life, I have always respected every person I've met, inlcuding gays and their families, without any distinction," Barilla said in a video apology posted on the company's Facebook page.
He said he was "depressed" and "saddened" by reaction to his comments.
Barilla had said to an Italian radio station that his company would never use a gay family in its advertising.
"I would never do (a commercial) with a homosexual family, not for lack of respect but because we don't agree with them. Ours is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role," Barilla, 55, said in an interview with Radio 24 on Wednesday.
"It is clear that I have a lot to learn about the lively debate concerning the evolution of the family," he said in the apology.
Barilla - one of the best known pasta brands around the world - is one of Italy's biggest advertisers, and for many years has used the image of a happy family living in an idealized version of the Italian countryside, with the slogan: "Where there's Barilla, there's home."
(Read more: Labor Dept. says legally married gay couples have federal rights)
In the interview, Barilla had said he opposed adoption by gay parents, but was in favor of allowing gay marriage, which is not legal in Italy. His comment about advertising was in response to a direct question about whether he would ever feature a gay family in his company's commercials.
If gays "like our pasta and our advertising, they'll eat our pasta, if they don't like it then they will not eat it and they will eat another brand," he said.
(Read more: Gay investors seek equality from SEC)
Aurelio Mancuso, head of gay rights group Equality Italia, said Barilla's comments were an "offensive provocation" and called for a boycott of the company's pasta, sauces and snacks.
"We accept the invitation from the Barilla owner to not eat his pasta," Mancuso said. Many Italians used social media to voice support for a boycott.
(Read more: Putin says no discrimination against gays in Russia)
Alessandro Zan, a gay member of parliament, said on Twitter: "You can't mess around with consumers, including gay ones."
— Reuters contributed to this article.
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