Three Asbury Park same-sex couples had filed marriage license applications as of 10 a.m. Friday, and all of them will be married on Monday as the state Supreme Court has denied the governor’s request for a stay to a Mercer County Superior Court judge’s ruling.
Asbury Park is one of few municipalities in the state to start taking license applications Friday so that couples can legally marry come Monday morning after the 72-hour required waiting period. Whether Deputy Clerk Kiki Tomek would be able to issue the actual licenses was up in the air until Friday afternoon when Governor Christie’s motion to have the state Supreme Court stay Judge Mary Jacobson’s ruling was denied.
“We therefore deny the State’s motion for a stay. As a result, the trial court’s order dated September 27, 2013 remains in full force and effect,” read the ruling of the state supreme court denying the stay.
Same-sex marriage is now legal in the state starting Monday. However, while the state Supreme Court has refused the request to stay the judge’s decision it will still make a final ruling on the governor’s appeal in the coming months, at which time it can uphold or reverse Jacobson’s decision.
It’s not the first time Asbury Park has pushed forward in the fight for marriage equality. In 2004, when same-sex marriages were recognized following a Massachussets judge’s ruling, Tomek forged ahead, taking applications for marriage licenses from same sex-couples in the city, until the city received a letter from the state.
“McGreevey was the governor at the time and he had the attorney general stop us. He sent us a letter that said, ‘cease and desist or we will cut all your funding’,” said City Manager Terence Reidy. “It was a very heavy letter.”
Asbury couples Heather Jensen and Amy Quinn, who is a city councilwoman; Tom Pivinski and Malcolm Navias; and Steven Brunner and Daniel Baum are among same-sex couples in the state that will officially tie the knot this Monday. Jensen served as the witness for Brunner and Baum when they filled out the application. Pivinski, an ordained priest, will officiate Quinn and Jensen’s marriage ceremony.
Daniel Baum and Steven Brunner obtained a NJ civil union certificate in 2008, the two met in Asbury Park in 2007. Although some couples hold out-of-state marriage licenses, they wanted to wait until it was legal in the state of New Jersey.
“I just really wanted to do it here. It was imperative,” Brunner said. “This is where we met and that’s what this is all about.”
Baum and Brunner “unofficially” met at an event held at Paradise, a dance club geared toward the gay community located on the waterfront, about seven years ago, Baum said. Baum was single for a while and kept hearing through their mutual friends that they had someone they wanted to set him up with, he said.
As it turns out, happenstance had the same thing in mind.
“I looked across the pool and there was this guy standing there and I just knew,” Baum said. “I was like-that’s him—and I completely ran away.”
“Our eyes locked and then it was like, OK, where did he go?” said Brunner.
The two ran into each other several times just by chance on the boardwalk during Brunner’s daily dog walks and Baum’s morning runs. Brunner’s friends kept asking him if he wanted Baum’s number, but Brunner kept declining.
“I told them if it was supposed to happen, it’ll happen,” Brunner said.
Then, one morning, Baum decided he was going to take a leap of faith.
“I was running and I thought, ‘ok, I’m going to do this,’ and just ran straight into his arms,” Baum said.
They made plans to spent the afternoon on the beach, and have been together ever since.
Quinn and Jensen will be together for ten years this June.
Jensen was a singer in a punk rock band that was playing at a gay festival back in 2003. The friend’s Quinn attended the festival with had an argument, so she decided to sit and watch Jensen’s band play.
“She came up afterwards to say ‘good job’ and I was like, ‘holy moly—that’s one foxy lady’,” Jensen said. “I was very charming. The rest is history.”
Quinn had been living in Asbury at the time. Jensen moved up from Washington, D.C., shortly after and have been Asbury Park residents together for ten years.
On their tenth anniversary, the two were married in the state of New York. They have a registered domestic partnership in Asbury Park, and, in as far as Quinn’s understanding, their NY marriage “translates to a civil union in NJ,” Quinn said.
Tom Pivinski and Malcolm Navias met 20 years ago through a mutual friend while they were both working as therapists in Manhattan. Pivinski chairs the city’s Environment and Shade Tree Commission.
The two were living in the city when they began to look for a place to find a summer home and fell in love with Asbury Park, so they moved here. They have been living in the city in for the past 14 years, Pivinski said.
Pivinski and Navias obtained a civil union and had their ceremony at Trinity Church in May of 2009.
They are not married in any other states because they wanted to wait until it was legal in NJ, Pivinski said.
Councilman John Loffredo and Councilwoman Sue Henderson are also in committed same-sex relationships. Loffredo and his partner, Richard Gore, have been together for 29 years, Loffredo said. Henderson and her partner, Donna, have been together for 21 years, according to Henderson. They both have plans for wedding ceremonies in their future, and kept the faith the all this time the day would come.
“I knew it was coming,” said Henderson.
“We’ve come a long long way, there’s no doubt about it,” said Loffredo.
“I think it’s way overdue, it’s about time so I’m thrilled it is happening,” Reidy said.
[Photo at top: Deputy Clerk Kiki Tomek assists Steven Brunner [left] and Daniel Baum [right] with their marriage license application.]