Same-sex couples in New Jersey can begin marrying on Monday, after the state's Supreme Court rejected a request to halt the ceremonies.
Gov. Chris Christie had asked the court to block the weddings, while his administration appealed a lower court ruling that found the state's system of civil unions was unconstitutional.
"While the court's ruling on Friday applied only to the request for a stay, it also indicated that the justices did not think the appeal had a 'reasonable' likelihood of success.
"'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,' Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote in his opinion. 'The harm to them is real, not abstract or speculative.'
"Mayors in Jersey City, Newark and Asbury Park, among others, had said they wanted to be first to marry same-sex couples, and gay rights groups had begun helping couples file for marriage licenses and plan ceremonies to begin the minute the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. on Monday."
The Newark Star-Ledger reports that Christie's spokesman issued a statement saying, "while the Governor firmly believes that this determination should be made by all the people of the State of New Jersey, he has instructed the Department of Health to cooperate with all municipalities in effectuating the order of the Superior Court under the applicable law."