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Christie seeks to block same-sex marriage ruling

Gov. Chris Christie moved Monday to block same-sex marriages that are supposed to begin in late October after a judge’s ruling last week that the New Jersey Constitution requires the state to allow them.

In a letter, Christie’s appointed interim attorney general, John Jay Hoffman, told the State Supreme Court that the administration would seek a stay to prevent such marriages from happening.

Hoffman also said that it intended to ask the court, the state’s highest, to hear the appeal immediately. State Democratic leaders who have been fighting Christie to allow same-sex marriages said that they, too, would press to have the Supreme Court hear the case immediately.

On Friday, Judge Mary C. Jacobson of State Superior Court in Mercer County ruled that the state had to allow same-sex marriages starting Oct. 21, saying the state Constitution required it in light of the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in June that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, which had denied federal benefits to same-sex married couples.

A 2006 New Jersey Supreme Court decision said that the State Constitution required same-sex couples to have the same rights and protections as heterosexual couples. The Legislature responded by passing a law allowing civil unions, but gay and lesbian couples sued, saying they were still denied many benefits.

The Legislature passed another law allowing same-sex marriage last year., but Christie vetoed the bill.

Democratic leaders, along with gay rights groups, are pushing to override Christie’s veto before a January deadline.

—Kate Zernike, The New York Times

Tensions over Iran seem to ebb between Netanyahu and Obama

WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, meeting with President Barack Obama after his historic phone conversation last week with the Iranian president, said Monday that he was comforted to hear Obama say that Tehran’s words needed to be matched by actions.

Netanyahu, who has warned that Iran’s diplomatic overture regarding its nuclear program could be a trap for the United States, said that he and Obama agreed that the chief objective remained ensuring that Iran did not acquire a nuclear weapon.

“The ultimate test of a future agreement with Iran is whether or not Iran dismantles its nuclear program,” Netanyahu said to reporters after meeting with Obama in the Oval Office.

But the Israeli leader went out of his way to praise the president for putting in place sanctions, as well as threatening military force, which together, he said, “have brought Iran to the negotiating table.”

Obama, while acknowledging the opening with Iran, said: “We enter into these negotiations very cleareyed. They will not be easy, and anything we do will require the highest standards of verification in order for us to provide the sort of sanctions relief that I think they are looking for.”

Netanyahu is scheduled to speak to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. His visit with Obama amounted to a political gut-check after a week of diplomatic developments during the visit of Iran’s newly elected president, Hasan Rouhani, to the United Nations.

The Israeli government has clearly been rattled by Rouhani’s diplomatic offensive, leaking word that Netanyahu, in his General Assembly speech, would liken Iran’s initiative to that of North Korea, which signed an agreement in 2005 to relinquish its nuclear weapons, only to renege a year later.

In their remarks to reporters, however, Obama and Netanyahu showed little obvious signs of tension over the phone call with Rouhani or other issues.

—Mark Landler, The New York Times