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City Halts Gay Nuptial Applications

March 11, 2004|From Associated Press

ASBURY PARK, N.J. — Bowing to pressure from the state attorney general, the city on Wednesday stopped accepting marriage license applications from gay couples but decided to seek a court ruling in support of same-sex vows.

The City Council acted after Atty. Gen. Peter C. Harvey threatened criminal prosecution if city officials did not stop granting the licenses.

"This is a civil rights issue," Councilwoman Kate Mellina said, noting that the community has a large gay population. "They deserve the same rights that anyone standing in this room deserves."

Council members said they would seek a court judgment affirming that a gay marriage performed Monday by the deputy mayor was legal and that the city could continue issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Harvey said state law, affirmed by court rulings, does not permit such marriages.

Gov. James E. McGreevey urged gay couples to take advantage of the state's recently passed domestic partnership measure.

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