New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a possible Republican candidate for president in 2016, said Monday that he will no longer challenge a pro-gay marriage court ruling in his state.
“Same-sex marriage is the law,” Christie’s administration said in a Monday statement.
While it may help him burnish his independent streak ahead of his likely re-election in two weeks, Christie’s movie infuriated Christian conservatives, a major force during Republican presidential primaries.
“Family Research Council is disappointed by Gov. Chris Christie’s decision to withdraw the state’s appeal of a lower court order redefining marriage,” Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at Family Research Council, told The Daily Caller on Monday. “The fact that the Supreme Court refused to stay the lower court’s order is no excuse for failing to litigate this important issue to a final conclusion on the merits.”
A state Superior Court judge in New Jersey legalized gay marriage in a September ruling, which allows gay people in the state to get marriage licenses starting this week. Christie had asked the state Supreme Court to appeal the ruling, though they rejected his request on Friday to stop the implementation of marriage licenses.
Christie has said he is for traditional marriage and that the voters should decide the issue, not the courts. But by Monday, Christie made clear he will no longer fight the ruling.
“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,” the Christie administration said in a Monday statement. “The Governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his Administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court.”
Sprigg of the Family Research Council said the episode indicates that Christie is an “unreliable ally for true conservatives.”
“We are glad that Gov. Christie vetoed the legislature’s attempt to redefine marriage, and that he was initially willing to defend the state’s marriage law in court,” he said.
“However, conservatives are looking for leaders who will stay the course and fight for unchanging principles, not throw in the towel when faced with opposition,” Sprigg said. “Combined with his signing of a radical bill to outlaw even voluntary sexual orientation change efforts with minors, today’s action has marked Gov. Christie as an unreliable ally for true conservatives.”
The news comes as Christie is the overwhelming favorite to win re-election to governor in New Jersey on Nov. 5.
New Jersey is now the 14th state to allow gay marriage. Newark mayor Cory Booker — elected last week to the U.S. Senate — presided over seven marriages on Monday for gay couples.
While the issue could be a liability for Christie if he runs for the White House in 2016, his potential primary opponents aren’t speaking out on the issue yet. The Daily Caller has reached out to spokesmen for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
A spokeswoman for Paul — who has regularly sparred with Christie in recent months — told TheDC the senator is in Kentucky on Monday and has not discussed the topic yet.