Archive for Wednesday, March 10, 2004

N.J. orders halt to gay licenses

March 10, 2004

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— The day after New Jersey's first gay marriage was performed, the state attorney general Tuesday ordered city officials to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and performing gay marriages -- or face criminal charges.

Atty. Gen. Peter C. Harvey also warned officials that marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples were invalid.

Letters were sent Tuesday to the city clerk, mayor and deputy mayor, who married two gay men Monday. Harvey told Deputy Mayor James Bruno he was wrong to do so.

"We urge you to carry out your official duties in a manner consistent with the well-established court decisions and advice set forth in the accompanying letter to avoid the initiation of legal action by our office," Harvey wrote.

More marriages could mean "potential criminal prosecution." A conviction could result in a fine up to $10,000 and possible jail time, a spokesman for the attorney general's office said.

Frederick C. Raffetto, an attorney for Asbury Park, said a decision would be announced today about whether the city intended to abide by the order.

Gay marriage has so far been rejected by state courts. On Nov. 5, a judge ruled nothing in the state constitution guarantees same-sex unions as a right.

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