6 New Jersey couples who finally have the freedom to marry

Yesterday, October 21, 2013, New Jersey became the 14th state to extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples across the state. Earlier this year, the New Jersey Superior Court ruled that denying the freedom to marry to same-sex couples is unconstitutional, and yesterday, the Christie administration finally dropped his appeal of the marriage ruling, allowing it to stand. Same-sex couples began marrying at midnight on Monday. 

Many families across the state of New Jersey will be impacted by this week's victory - thousands will be able to marry in the state this month, and for many more, their legal marriages will at last be respected in the state where they live and have built thier lives. Throughout this campaign, Freedom to Marry and New Jersey United for Marriage, the coalition working to win marriage through the legislature this year, have been sharing the moving and beautiful stories of same-sex couples who have been doing the work of marriage for many years. By speaking out and sharing their stories, they sent a message that New Jersey is ready for marriage, and we thank them for speaking up.

Here are six couples from New Jersey celebrating this week's victory - and don't miss the rest of their stories, at the link:

Ashley Jestat & Gabriela Giuliani • Red Bank, NJ

This June, Ashley and Gabriela, who have been together for 11 years, promised their commitment to each other in front of all of their friends and family members in a beautiful ceremony in New Jersey. They were joined together in civil union, and now, they're thrilled to finally have their commitment respected as a marriage. They're excited for this huge victory in the state they've called home for so long. "It didn't feel right to seek a marriage license in any other state but the state where we reside," Ashley and Gabriela said at the time. "We live in New Jersey, we have built our life in New Jersey, and we want to get married in New Jersey. We are proud to stand our ground and work toward equality in New Jersey," Ashley said. "We want to join in the fight so that our state extends the freedom to marry to all."

Read Ashley & Gabriela's story, including over a dozen gorgeous photos by the amazing Emily & Cassidy at Wren & Field Photography

Joseph DeIorio & Thos Shipley • Roselle Park, NJ

In one of the last years of his 16-year term serving as the mayor of Roselle Park, NJ, Joe met the love of his life: Thos Shipley. The two fell in love, and after a few years, settled down together in Roselle Park, where Joe was born and raised. In September, they tied the knot in their church on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and they were disappointed to see that when they returned home, New Jersey did not respect their marriage - downgrading it to a civil union. "It's demeaning and ridiculous to be married in one state, then cross a bridge or tunnel to be demoted to civil union status, then cross into Pennsylvania to enjoy our weekend home in the Poconos and be nothing more than two individuals with no protections or rights as a couple," Thos said last month. Now, with this week's NJ victory, Joe and Thos will not have to feel disrespected in their home state of New Jersey - and they're excited to keep working toward a nationwide victory.

Read Joe & Thos' Story, including beautiful photos from Dustin Cantrell Photography.

Suzanne and Mara McMahon • Montclair, NJ

After 18 years together, Suzanne and Mara are thrilled to finally have the opportunity to declare their love and commitment in the state where they live. They live in a community surrounded by 22 other members of their family, with their 8-year-old twins together, Audrey and Benji, who have just started the 3rd grade.

Read Suzanne & Mara's Story at New Jersey United for Marriage

Robert & Mark Cotter-Dacres • Jersey City, NJ

It's been a hueg year for Robert and Mark - in June, they saw the so-called Defense of Marriage Act be struck down, which paved the way for them to finally be able to live together, without separation, here in the United States. Mark, an American citizen, could finally sponsor Robert, a British national, for immigration purposes. Now, just a few months later, the couple is celebrating the freedom to marry in New Jersey, where Mark lives. "Marriage matters to us both because we are both firmly committed to each other," Robert explained a few months ago. "We wish to grow old together. We wish for the other partner to be legally protected and recognized in the event of any health issues. We wish to create a family to add to our existing large families. We wish for our marriage to be treated like any other marriage in the United States." Now in New Jersey, they will have those protections.

Read Mark & Robert's Story

Sue Bavineau and Nikki Tongg • North Plainfield, NJ

This year, Nikki and Sue declared their love and commitment for each other in front of their friends and family members in Hawaii, where Nikki lived previously with her family - and where many of her family members still live. When they returned home to New Jersey, they knew that they had taken a hueg step forward together in celebrating their commitment with their family members...but they also knew that in both Hawaii and New Jersey, they were not legally married. Sue and Nikki were overjoyed at the great news out of NJ this week - and now, they're readying their plans to legally tie the knot alongside other friends, family members, and neighbors here in New Jersey. 

Read Nikki & Sue's Story, including wonderful photography by Kaua Wedding Photography.

Joan Curran and Anne Quinlan McCabe • Cape May, NJ

Anne and Joan have been together for over 25 years, since they met in Philadelphia, PA. Now, they make their home in Cape May, NJ - Joan is retired, but she still putts her nursing and social work skills to work by volunteering to help friends, neighbors or strangers in need. Anne continues her full-time work, but is happiest at the beach with a book or playing with any and all of their 10 grandchildren. Anne and Joan have loved every minute of their 25 years together, and before NJ passed the freedom to marry, their wish was to bring their children, grandchildren, extended family and friends together for a wedding on the beach in New Jersey. Now, they'll have that chance. 

Read Anne and Joan's Story at New Jersey United for Marriage