Judge: "Same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey Constitution."
The Garden State could be the latest to allow same-sex marriages after a state court judge ruled that gay couples must be allowed to wed and access federal benefits. "Same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey Constitution," she wrote, noting that the civil unions granted by New Jersey are not comparable to federal benefits granted after the Supreme Court rejected the Defense of Marriage Act. The Christie administration has until October 21st to appeal or allow the process to move forward.
"Judge Mary Jacobson granted a summary judgment requested by Garden State Equality, which had claimed that the U.S. Supreme Court's rejection of the federal Defense of Marriage Act meant that same-sex couples in civil unions in New Jersey were being denied equal protection.
"The ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits is currently harming same-sex couples in New Jersey in a wide range of contexts," the judge said.
"Same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey Constitution," she wrote.
The ruling does not mean that same-sex marriages will begin immediately in New Jersey. The state has until Oct. 21 to either appeal or start the process to allow gay marriages.
The Christie administration said it would appeal."
Lambda Legal, which argued the case for Garden State Equality, said in a statement that "this news is thrilling."
"We argued that limiting lesbians and gay men to civil union is unfair and unconstitutional, and now the court has agreed."