Marriage equality has come to New Jersey. Friday state judge Mary Jacobson ordered the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples beginning October 21. She found the state’s marriage laws denied equal rights guaranteed by the Supreme Court of the United State in June.
The New York Times reports,
New Jersey was particularly ripe for a challenge after the Supreme Court ruling, because of a previous ruling by the state’s highest court in 2006. In that decision, in the case Lewis v. Harris, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled unanimously that same-sex couples were entitled to all of the rights and benefits of marriage. But the court stopped short of saying they had a fundamental right to marry, and in an unusual step instructed the Legislature to define how to confer equal protection.
“The ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits is currently harming same-sex couples in New Jersey in a wide range of contexts,” Judge Mary C. Jacobson of State Superior Court in Mercer County wrote on Friday. “Same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey Constitution.”
Governor Christie plans to appeal. Last year he vetoed a marriage equality bill passed by the state legislature.