Gay couples may be able to legally get married in New Jersey. In a court decision released Friday, Sept. 27, Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson ruled that effective Oct. 21, the state of New Jersey will permit any and all same-sex couples, who otherwise satisfy the requirements to enter into a civil marriage, to marry in New Jersey.
Gov. Chris Christie Friday vowed to appeal the ruling, stating that he will let Supreme Court to make the decision since the legislature has not brought the issue before the voters.
“Gov. Christie has always maintained that he would abide by the will of the voters on the issue of marriage equality and called for it to be on the ballot this Election Day. Since the legislature refused to allow the people to decide expeditiously, we will let the Supreme Court make this constitutional determination,” reads a statement from Christie’s press secretary Michael Drewniak.
This suit was brought against the state of New Jersey by Garden State Equality, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender right organization, and six same-sex couples and their children, who held that the New Jersey and United States constitutions guarantee equal protection and because of that require that civil marriage be extended to same-sex couples.
This decision is based off the United States Supreme Court ruling in June, United States v. Windsor, which struck down a portion the Defense of Marriage Act denying marital benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married in their home states. The plaintiffs contended that because New Jersey allows for civil unions and not marriages for same-sex couples, they are deprived of the federal benefits of marriage.
Civil rights activists came forward Friday in support of Jacobson’s ruling. ACLU-NJ Executive Director Udi Ofer said Friday was a great day for all of New Jersey.
“The court has recognized the love and commitment that same-sex couples share is no different from anyone else’s. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act made it clear that civil unions discriminate against same-sex New Jersey couples,” he said. “We encourage the state to respect the court’s decision and to not further prolong the inequality suffered by New Jersey families. The ACLU-NJ will continue to work with our allies across the state to encourage the legislature to bring full equality to New Jersey as soon as possible.”
“Civil unions are separate and unequal, particularly in light of this year’s historic Supreme Court term,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin. “There are no rational arguments why couples in New Jersey should be relegated to second class status. State officials should not appeal this sound decision and no longer stand in the way of loving couples being able to make a lifelong commitment with full state and federal recognition.”
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