LAMBERTVILLE, N.J. (AP) — Gay couples exchanged vows in early morning ceremonies in several New Jersey communities Monday as the state began recognizing their marriages at 12:01 a.m., becoming the 14th state to do so.
The hastily planned first weddings to legally unite long-time couples were planned for a state Senator's grand home in Elizabeth, the boardwalk in Asbury Park and government buildings in small towns and big cities.
In the arts community of Lambertville, Mayor David DelVecchio led the ceremony to marry Beth Asaro and Joanne Schailey. He also presided when they joined in a civil union the minute they became recognized in the state in February 2007.
Soon after they cut the cake, DelVecchio handed Asaro a pink marriage license. "We're floating on air," she said. Added Schailey, "It's like winning the Super Bowl."
The couple, both wearing suits, hosted a reception attended by friends, family and several politicians. The song "In the Mood" played.
Asaro, a member of the city council in Lambertville, said they wanted to get married at the first moment, in part, to promote the gay-friendliness of their community north of Trenton.
"This shows to the world that Lambertville is open for business," DelVecchio said.
In Newark, Mayor Cory Booker was marrying the first of several couples when someone attempted to disrupt the ceremony.
Booker had asked if anyone had reason to object to the marriage and a protester screamed "This is unlawful in the eyes of God and Jesus Christ."
Booker, who was elected to the U.S. Senate last week, called for the person to be removed and police dragged him out.
As Booker continued speaking, "...not hearing any substantive and worthy objections," thunderous applause erupted.
The weddings came amid a flurry of legal activity after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the federal government should recognize gay marriages and confer couples with the same benefits that it does for heterosexual married couples, including joint tax filings, the right to live together in government-funded nursing homes and Social Security survivor benefits.
A state judge last month agreed with advocates who said that by allowing civil unions but not marriage, New Jersey was keeping gay couples in the state from legal equality.
The administration of Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican and possible 2016 presidential candidate, appealed both the ruling and Monday's implementation date to the state Supreme Court.
And on Friday, less than 60 hours before the weddings were to begin, the state's top court refused to delay them while it sorts out the overall case. The court said the state is not likely to prevail.
State Sen. Ray Lesniak said late Sunday he believes there are enough votes to override Christie's gay marriage veto in the Senate and that he expects a vote after the Nov. 5 election.
"Though we are 99 percent sure based on the unanimous opinion against the stay that the Supreme Court will uphold marriage equality, we'd like to be 100 percent sure," Lesniak said.
Many of the people who have long fought for the right for gay couples to marry had been bracing for a delay, even while they were optimistic the state's top court would ultimately force New Jersey to recognize same-sex marriage.
For the first couples to tie the knot legally, it's been a weekend of fast wedding planning and confusion.
Some towns began taking applications for same-sex marriage licenses on Thursday and continued even after the state government told them not to until there was clarity from the courts.
Other towns refused to grant licenses even after the state Health Department said Friday evening that towns should accept the applications.
It's expected that a rush of weddings will continue in coming days as couples are able to get licenses.
Zezima reported from Newark. Associated Press reporters Angela Delli Santi in Elizabeth and Samantha Henry in Newark also contributed.
Follow Mulvihill at http:// www.twitter.com/geoffmulvihill. Follow Zezima at http://www.twitter.com/katiezez.
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GREENWICH, Conn. (AP) — A multi-vehicle crash closed part of Interstate 95 in southwestern Connecticut for about two hours as road conditions turned slippery with the arrival of a wintry storm.
Lawmakers in Connecticut and New York are calling on the Federal Railroad Administration to take immediate action to try and prevent another deadly train crash like the one that happened last weekend in New York City.
Members of the Machinists union who work at jet-engine maker Pratt & Whitney have approved a new three-year contract.
Manchester police are investigating what lead one man to allegedly kill three women and then take his own life.
The University of Connecticut has awarded the first two scholarships under a program launched to help those affected by last year's massacre at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
A student accused of setting off a lockdown and massive police response at Central Connecticut State University by wearing a ninja-like costume on campus is set to face a judge for the first time.
Newtown police officers rescued two people from a house fire, early Sunday.
Enfield resident Harold Slater was just 20-years-old the day he witnessed the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Two men were arrested after breaking into a home then driving at officers during a pursuit in Waterbury on Saturday night.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut's governor is calling for houses of worship to mark the first anniversary of the Newtown school shooting by ringing their bells 26 times — once for each of the victims killed inside Sandy Hook Elementary …