NJ Judge: Gay Marriage Is Legal

Gov. Chris Christie is expected to challenge.

This just in, from the Star-Ledger.

A state judge today ruled to legalize same-sex marriage in New Jersey, saying gay couples would be denied federal benefits if the state kept allowing only civil unions. Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson granted an emergency request by six gay couples, ordering state officials to begin officiating same-sex marriages on Oct. 21.

Garden State Equality, which brought the lawsuit, argued that the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision to invalidate the Defense of Marriage Act effectively turned New Jersey’s same-sex couples into second-class citizens. Judge Jacobson agreed. Here’s a key passage from her opinion, which you can read here.

Following the Windsor [DOMA] decision…same-sex couples are only granted the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples if they are married. Since New Jersey currently denies marriage to same-sex couples, same-sex civil union partners in New Jersey are ineligible for many federal marital benefits….Under these circumstances, the current inequality visited upon same-sex civil union couples offends the New Jersey Constitution.

Chris Christie–who vetoed a bill that would have granted gay couples the right to marriage–is expected to challenge the ruling, which seems destined to be argued out in front of the state supreme court.