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Chris Christie drops gay marriage appeal as New Jersey law takes effect

Newark Mayor and newly-elected Sen. Cory Booker, right, officiates a wedding ceremony for James Credle, middle, and Pierre DuFresne at City Hall in the early morning hours of Oct. 21 in Newark, New Jersey. Just hours after Booker officiated the state's first legal same-sex wedding ceremonies, Gov. Chris Christie announced Monday he is dropping his appeal of the court ruling that allowed such unions. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

Just hours after Senator-elect Cory Booker officiated New Jersey's first legal same-sex wedding ceremonies at Newark City Hall, Gov. Chris Christie announced Monday he is dropping his appeal of the court ruling that allowed such unions.

Christie, a Republican who's up for re-election this year and a possible Republican presidential contender in 2016, insisted that he remained opposed to same-sex marriage, but was effectively bound to honor the court decision.

"Although the governor strongly disagrees with the court substituting its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches or a vote of the people, the court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey Constitution and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law," Christie said in a statement.

Christie's administration had requested that gay marriages be delayed pending the appeal to a lower court, but the state Supreme Court decided last week that same-sex marriages would go on as planned beginning midnight Monday.

It was at that time that Booker, the departing mayor of Newark and long an advocate of equal rights for gay couples, officiated at seven same-sex marriage ceremonies in Newark, one of many New Jersey cities that stayed open late to accommodate the weddings.

"It is officially past midnight, marriage is now equal in New Jersey," Booker said.

New Jersey voters last week chose Booker, a Democrat, to fill the Senate seat left open by the death of former Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.