Judge Mary Jacobson of New Jersey ruled that because the federal government recognizes gay marriages, New Jersey must do so as well lest it violate the state constitution. Governor Chris Christie is opposed to same-sex marriage and his administration will most likely appeal the ruling.
Same-sex couples in New Jersey are already allowed to enter into civil unions and, due to a ruling in 2006, receive the same legal rights as married couples.
“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,” Judge Jacobson wrote. “Same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey Constitution.”
According to the ruling, the state must begin performing gay marriages on October 21.
UPDATE Governor Christie’s press secretary issued the following statement after the court ruling: “Governor 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.”