Cory Booker marries gay couples as marriage equality arrives in New Jersey

Mon. October 21, 2013 8:37 AM by Carlos Santoscoy

Newark, NJ - Senator-elect Cory Booker, the current Democratic mayor of Newark, married 7 gay couples on Monday as a court order that allows gay marriage in the state officially took effect at 12:01 AM.

Booker married the couples in the first floor rotunda of Newark City Hall. The celebration included a tiered wedding cake and sparkling cider.

The first couple to marry was Orville Bell, a 65-year-old educator, and Joseph Panessidi, a 66-year-old semi-retired retail advertising executive. The men have been together 15 years (pictured).

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop also performed a couple of marriages after midnight.

More than a dozen city halls started issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples on Friday after the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously denied Republican Governor Chris Christie's request for a stay on a lower court's ruling ordering the state to begin issuing such licenses on October 21. The high court has scheduled a hearing in the case for January 6 or 7, but refusal to grant a stay is a strong signal that the court does not believe that the state will prevail.

Gay rights proponents cheered the news but said that they would continue to push lawmakers to override Christie's 2012 veto of a bill legalizing marriage for gay couples in the state.

Article provided in partnership with On Top Magazine