ASBURY PARK, N.J. – A gay couple were married in City Hall on Monday after being issued a license by city officials who say New Jersey law does not explicitly ban such unions.
In a short 3:30 p.m. ceremony attended by about 10 people, Louis Navarrete and Ric Best, both of Asbury Park (search), tied the knot in City Council chambers.
The two had paid $28 for a marriage license on Friday and waited the requisite 72 hours, according to Laura Jewell, a spokeswoman for City Clerk Dawn Tomek.
Monday's wedding was the first gay marriage ceremony performed in New Jersey. Six other applications for same-sex weddings (search) are pending, city officials said.
"As a show of support to the city's gay community and the gay community nationwide, the City of Asbury Park has determined that it will commence the issuance of licenses to same-sex couples and the solemnization of marriage between same-sex couples, immediately, as a matter of fundamental civil and Constitutional rights," Tomek said in a written statement.
She said New Jersey is one of 12 states that have no statute expressly banning same-sex marriages and that nothing in state law defines marriage as the exclusive province of opposite-sex couples.
"We're proud that New Jersey is at the forefront of the marriage equality movement," said Steven Goldstein, New Jersey campaign manager for Lambda Legal (search), a gay rights activist organization.
Two years ago, Lambda Legal filed a suit to allow gay couples to marry in New Jersey. It is currently on appeal, according to Goldstein.