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Same-sex marriage requests met with confusion, frustration in some N.J. towns


Same-sex marriage requests met with confusion, frustration in some N.J. towns

Whether the first day of same-sex marriage in North Jersey was a joyous celebration, or a heartbreaking disappointment, depended on location and a sympathetic ear.

In Hawthorne, Jeff Gardner was able to say “I do” Monday to Ari Lash, his partner of 13 years, after he showed the proper paperwork to a Passaic County judge, who waived the state’s 72-hour waiting period for nuptials. Christian Reinhardt and Marijan Por did the same in Bergen County court and tied the knot hours later, as their 8-year-old daughter looked on.

A Bergen County judge dashed the hopes of high school sweethearts Sophie Papanikolaou and Teri Noel, of Fair Lawn, telling them they didn’t meet the legal requirements and had to wait until Thursday to make their 34-year relationship a legal marriage.

“I’m frustrated, I’m furious, I’m hurt,” Papanikolaou said. “We expected a rubber stamp. We’ve been together 34 years. Why would [the judge] give a flying leap?”

Confusion over how New Jersey’s marriage laws apply to gay couples seemed to be the key problem in local communities, as municipal officials and eager couples tried to make sense of it all. As of Thursday, there was no gay marriage in New Jersey. On Friday, suddenly there was, after the state Supreme Court rejected Governor Christie’s request to hold off on allowing same-sex marriages while his administration appealed a lower court ruling. (Baker/The Record)

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