Same-sex marriage in New Jersey has been legalized following a ruling Friday afternoon by a Middlesex County Superior Court judge.
Judge Mary C. Jacobson ruled that any official empowered to perform marriages within the state must do so for any same-sex couples beginning Oct. 21, according to court documents.
Jacobson ruled in favor of same-sex marriage because couples who enter into a civil union are denied federal benefits reserved for married couples.
Six couples filed an emergency request against state officials including New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dowd; Jennifer Velez, the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services; and Mary O’Dowd, the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.
Speaker Sheila Oliver hailed the decision Friday afternoon, stating
"This is a great victory for civil rights and treating everyone equally
under the law," in a prepared statement.
The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that same-sex couples can receive the rights and benefits heterosexual couples were granted through marriage, but left it up to the state Legislature to determine what it should be called. The Legislature decided on the term civil union.
Gov. Chris Christie and his administration have opposed same-sex marriage and are expected to appeal.