COJC, same-sex marriage pre-Y2K

Back around ’99 or so, when I was working in City Hall, I happened to be in the City Clerk’s office one day. I was up front in the public reception area talking to a slight older woman on the other side of the counter. Two women entered. One was petite and conventionally very pretty. She was smiling. Accompanying her was another woman, quite a bit taller than my 5’ 10”. This gal exuded an aura of sinewy strength –- and was not smiling. She pushed past me –- literally -– and addressed the City Clerk’s Office employee that I’d been speaking with.


“Uh . . . One moment please.” She then walked quickly to the back.

Robert Byrne, City Clerk for Jersey City – all 6’ 2” and 240 lbs of him — approached the front desk. By the expression on her face, the tall woman seemed surprised to be greeted by someone much larger than herself.

“Hello. I’m Robert Byrne, City Clerk of the City of Jersey City. As City Clerk of the City of Jersey City, I’m denying your request. This is not a personal decision on my part. As City Clerk, I must act in accordance with the laws of the State of New Jersey and the law clearly states that marriage is between a man and a woman. Do you have to accept this? No. You can write your elected representatives and demand that they change the law. When that happens, I’ll gladly accept your application.”

Robert Byrne handed the couple a 8.5” X 11” sheet of paper listing the local elected representatives and their contact information. The women took that, thanked Robert Byrne and left.

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