Monday 21 October 2013


Seven same-sex couples were married en masse in Newark on Monday morning, minutes after New Jersey officially became the 14th state in the US to allow gay marriage.

Newark mayor Cory Booker officiated at the ceremonies, describing it as "one of the greatest privileges" of his life in one of his last acts in office. Booker, who rose to national renown through savvy use of social media and a penchant for heroic acts, was elected to the US Senate last week and will be sworn in later this month.

"It is officially past midnight. Marriage is now equal in New Jersey," Booker announced at Newark city hall at 12.01am. The assembled crowd of activists and soon-to-be newly weds cheered.

Booker had refused requests to officiate at marriage ceremonies since being elected mayor in 2006, in protest at same-sex marriage being unlawful in the state. A judge ruled last month that New Jersey must recognise same-sex marriages, and despite late attempts to delay the ruling – including by the state's governor, Chris Christie – it was upheld on Friday. Booker made up for his seven barren years in office as he swiftly joined a total of nine couples in holy matrimony – including two heterosexual couples – within around 20 minutes.

"Do you wish to join in marriage?" Booker asked Joseph Panessidi and Orville Bell, both 65, who were first in line to be married. Both Panessidi and Bell answered in the affirmative.

"And I wish to join you," Booker said. "Not in the marriage," he added quickly, as laughter flowed up toward the ornate ceiling.

A momentary shadow was cast over the ceremony when Booker asked the crowd to speak if they knew of any "substantive reason" why Panessidi and Bell should not be wed.

"This is unlawful in the eyes of God," shouted an earnest-looking man wearing a beige jacket. He continued to shout as he was escorted out by police. "The Bible says that 'he that lieth with a man as he does with a woman, it's an abomination in the eyes of the Lord'," the man, 24-year-old Mark de Rouville, told the Guardian afterwards.

The interruption was minor, however, as Booker said he had not heard "any substantive reason" in the protester's message. He continued rattling through the ceremonies until all were wed.

"We feel that it's clear now," Panessidi said afterwards as guests drank champagne, ate cake and danced to Diana Ross's 1980 hit I'm Coming Out. "You can't misunderstand what our relationship is. It can't be dismissed or refuted by anyone."

Reference: theguardian

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