Politics

A New Jersey Judge Rules Gay Marriage Legal for First Time

A state judge ruled Friday that same-sex couples have the right to marry in New Jersey, a decision that reverberated across the state and sets up a final battle between gay rights advocates and Gov. Chris Christie at the state Supreme Court.
September 30, 2013
 

A state judge ruled Friday that same-sex couples have the right to marry in New Jersey, a decision that reverberated across the state and sets up a final battle between gay rights advocates and Gov. Chris Christie at the state Supreme Court.

Saying same-sex couples are being denied equal rights "every day," Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ordered the state to begin allowing same-sex marriages Oct. 21. Christie, however, vowed to appeal the ruling and could ask that the date be delayed while the court proceedings continue.

Jacobson’s decision marks the first time a New Jersey judge has said gay couples have the right to marry.

For now, it makes New Jersey the first state to legalize gay marriage after June’s landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

"Same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey constitution," the judge wrote, and their right to marry "should not be delayed until some undeterminable future time."

In a sweeping opinion, Jacobson granted an emergency request by six gay couples and their children, saying the state’s system of civil unions for same-sex couples denies them more than 1,000 federal tax benefits and legal protections.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling granted a wave of federal benefits to gay couples — but only in the 13 states where they are allowed to marry at the time, not New Jersey or other states with civil union laws.

Christie, a Republican who opposes gay marriage, vowed to appeal the ruling Friday all the way to the state Supreme Court.

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