PHOTOS: Marriage equality comes to New Jersey, Christie drops appeal

Couples in New Jersey have been celebrating the arrival of marriage equality and the end of Governor Chris Christie's challenge to the cause.

Beginning at midnight on Monday, October 21, gay and lesbian couples throughout the state were legally married, starting with Joanne Schailey and Beth Asaro, who have been together for 27 years. Since their relationship began decades ago, Joanne told Gay Star News, "it's a whole different world now."

The good news in the Garden State is both personal and political. When a judge first made the ruling that prohibiting marriage equality was unconstitutional, Christie and his administration appealed to the court for a reversal. Though they had been adamant in their protest, the appeal has now been withdrawn, according to The New York Times, PinkNews, and The Huffington Post. Conseqeuntially, there is no further legal challenge to marriage equality in New Jersey.

According to Christie's administration, “The governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court.”

New Jersey is now the 14th state, as well as the District of Columbia, to legalize marriage equality.

GLAAD National Spokesperson Wilson Cruz said in a statement, "Today is a day of celebration for families in New Jersey who, at long last, can rest secure that their love is protected by the law. Governor Christie's decision to withdraw his appeal goes to show how the efforts and voices of local families can be heard from the grassroots to the White House." Wilson added, "the movement toward equality throughout the country is not over, but today has been a wonderful step forward."

For more beautiful wedding pictures like the ones below of couples in New Jersey, check out Feministing's post from this morning.

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GLAAD Southern Stories will elevate the experiences of LGBT people in six of the nation's southern states. The initiative amplifies stories of LGBT people thriving in the South, ongoing discrimination, as well as the everyday indignities endured by LGBT people who simply wish to live the lives they love, including stories of family, stories of faith, stories of sports, and stories of patriotism