A judge has ruled that New Jersey must recognize marriages between same-sex couples. And Gov. Chris Christie, who had already vetoed a marriage equality law passed by the legislature, now says he will appeal the judge's ruling.
Judge Mary Jacobson of the Mercer County Superior Court ruled that beginning October 21, same-sex couples can marry in the Garden State. It's unclear whether Christie's appeal could stop couples from marrying.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Christie's office issued a statement outlining its intention to take the case to the state's supreme court. "Gov. 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," said spokesman Michael Drewniak in a statement. "Since the Legislature refused to allow the people to decide expeditiously, we will let the Supreme Court make this constitutional determination.”
Judge Jacobson cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling in United States v. Windsor as justification for her decision.
"This unequal treatment requires that New Jersey extend civil marriage to same-sex couples to satisfy equal protection guarantees of the New Jersey Constitution as interpreted by the New Jersey Supreme Court in Lewis," Jacobson wrote. "Same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey Constitution."
The ruling was in response to a suit by six gay couples, who argued that the state should recognize civil unions as marriages, giving them access to federal benefits. If the decision stands, New Jersey would become the 14th state to embrace marriage equality.