A New Jersey judge has ruled that the state must permit same-sex marriages.
According to an Associated Press report, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson’s decision noted that because the federal government recognizes gay marriages, the US Northeastern state violates its own constitution by not doing the same.
‘…The current inequality visited upon same-sex civil union couples offends the New Jersey Constitution, creates an incomplete set of rights…and is not compatible with "a reasonable conception of basic human dignity,"’ Jacobson writes.
The judge’s ruling comes from a case argued by the gay rights group Lambda Legal. The lawyers maintained the state’s civil union laws were insufficient after the early summer US Supreme Court Defense of Marriage Act decision.
‘This news is thrilling. We argued that limiting lesbians and gay men to civil union is unfair and unconstitutional, and now the Court has agreed,’ Hayley Gorenberg, Lambda Legal’s deputy legal director, said in a statement.
‘The end of DOMA made the freedom to marry even more urgent than before because the state stood between these families and a host of federal protections, benefits, rights and responsibilities. With this ruling, our clients and all of New Jersey’s same-sex couples are at the threshold of the freedom to marry,’ Gorenberg continued.
Presently it is unknown if Governor Chris Christie will appeal. This past February, the Republican vetoed same-sex marriage legislation passed by the Senate and Assembly.
Christie, who denounced the DOMA verdict, has argued a marriage rights bill should be sent to voters.
If there is no stay, or appeal, gay couples will be allowed to wed starting on 21 October.
UPDATE: Christie’s spokesman Michael Drewniak spoke to New Jersey.com, and promised there would be an appeal the state’s highest court.
‘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,’ Drewniak said.
‘Since the Legislature refused to allow the people to decide expeditiously, we will let the Supreme Court make this constitutional determination,’ he continued.
Christie’s office did not say if it would seek a stay as Jacobson’s ruling was reviewed.