A lawsuit brought on behalf of several New Jersey same-sex couples seeking marriage rights in the state can proceed, a Superior Court judge ruled Friday.
Mercer County assignment judge Linda Feinberg dismissed several counts in the suit, brought by Lambda Legal on behalf of the couples as well as the state LGBT rights group Garden State Equality. But she ruled that Lambda can argue one count of its legal complaint -- that a denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples is a violation of equal protection, The Star-Ledger of New Jersey reports.
"I don't think that the court can remain silent and take no action if ... the result is that those benefits are not equal in the protections," Feinberg said during a Friday hearing.
Though the state legalized civil unions in 2006, Lambda Legal argues that the lack of marriage rights in New Jersey for gay and lesbian couples "interferes during medical crises, denies them health insurance, and leads to discrimination against them even in funeral homes," according to deputy legal director Hayley Gorenberg.
"These families need marriage equality and should not have to live with a law that treats them as inferior," Gorenberg said in a Friday statement (read the full Lambda press release here).