Judge Mary Jacobson of the Mercer County Superior Court ruled Friday that same-sex couples can marry in New Jersey starting October 21, saying gay couples would be denied federal benefits if the state kept allowing only civil unions.
The judge ruled: "This unequal treatment requires that New Jersey extend civil marriage to same-sex couples to satisfy equal protection guarantees of the New Jersy Constitution as interpreted by the New Jersey Supreme Court in Lewis". And she added: "Same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey Constitution".
But Gov. Chris Christie, who opposes gay marriage, has vowed to appeal the ruling all the way to the state Supreme Court. Then, It's not immediately clear when marriages could begin.
The Christie administration had long argued that same-sex couples' rights were protected by civil unions in New Jersey, but Judge Jacobson wrote that they were unfairly left out after the Supreme Court rejected the Defense of Marriage Act, making federal benefits available to same-sex married couples but not those in civil unions.
We shall see what happens in the Garden State!