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New Jersey has first gay marriages; Sen.-elect Cory Booker performs same-sex wedding (with video)

BY GEOFF MULVIHILL AND SAMANTHA HENRY
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

LAMBERTVILLE, N.J. -- Gay couples in communities across New Jersey exchanged marriage vows in the first minutes of Monday, taking advantage of a court ruling that compelled the state to become the 14th in the nation to recognize same-sex nuptials.

In Lambertville, Beth Asaro and Joanne Schailey smiled through a ceremony in the same crowded municipal courtroom where almost seven years ago they became one of the first couples in the state joined in a civil union.

"We remained optimistic and hopeful that we would be able to gather together to do the right thing, the just thing, and see our two friends get married," Mayor Dave DelVecchio, who led both the 2007 ceremony and Monday's, said before leading the couple of 27 years through their vows as their 13-year-old daughter served as the flower girl.

"We're floating on air," Asaro, in a salmon pink suit, said afterward. "It's like winning the Super Bowl," said Schailey, who wore a black pant suit.

At Newark's City Hall, where seven gay couples and two heterosexual couples were wed, there was a brief disruption from a protester who cried out, "This is unlawful in the eyes of God and Jesus Christ," before Mayor Cory Booker, a Democrat elected last week to the U.S. Senate, declared Gabriela Celeiro and Liz Salerno "lawful spouses." After the protester was removed, the mayor, choking up, paused, put his hand over his heart and said, "This is very beautiful."

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