N.J. Same-Sex Marriage Now Legal on October 21

But Gov. Christie Vows Appeal

New Jersey Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson’s ruling on September 27 would make New Jersey the 14th stateto allow same-sex couples to marry. Judge Jacobson directed that her ruling take effect on October 21 to allow the state enough time to put the ruling into place or to appeal it.

Christie Expected to Appeal Decision

Republican Governor Chris Christie favors civil unions which New Jersey has had in place since 2007. Under the state constitution, civil unions guarantees those same-sex couples the same rights and benefits of opposite- sex married couples.

Governor Christie opposes gay marriage and plans on appealing the head judge of Mercer County’s deccision – all the way to the Supreme Court. Christie wanted to have a referendum on gay marriage on Election Day. He argued that the matter was out of Jersy’s hands since the only pressing questions were over federal, not state benefits.

However, since the Democrat -contolled Legislature refused to allow the people to decide, the state Supreme Court will make the constitutional determination which could take months. In the interim, Jacobson’s order may be frozen while the appeal is pending.

State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) and U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) are both urging Christie NOT to appeal. The Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey Udi Ofer, stated that a coalition of groups would keep pressing state lawmakers for an override of Cristie’s gay-marriage veto last year.

The Law According to Jacobson

According to Jacobson, who granted an emergency request by six couples, said that gay couples would be denied federal benefits if the state kept allowing only civil unions. Jacobson modeled her decision on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on United States v. Windsor.

This is the first state judicial ruling ordering same-sex marriage since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act last June. The judge wrote in her 53-pageopinion that “same sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey constitution. The ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits is currently harming same-sex couples in New Jersey in a wide range of contexts. For example, civil union partners who are federal employees living in New Jersey are ineligible for marital rights with regard to the federal pension system, all civil union partners who are employees working for businesses to which the Family and Medical Leave applies may not rely on its statutory protections for spouses, and civil union couples may not access the federal tax benefits that married couples enjoy.”

New Jersey to Become 14th State Allowing Gay Marriage

If the ruling stands, New Jersey will be the fourteenth state to allow same-sex marriage. If not appealed, “October 2 should be a very exciting day for many loving couples. Justice has already been denied for far too long. Let’s clear the way for equal rights for all families.”

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