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New Jersey: State judge rules same-sex couples must be allowed to marry beginning October 21, 2013

Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson has ruled that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection under the state constitution and ordered them to begin on October 21st.

AP: “In a summary judgment issued Friday, Judge Mary Jacobson says now that the federal government recognizes gay marriages, not doing so in New Jersey would violate the state constitution.”

From NBC New York:  Judge Mary Jacobson granted a summary judgment requested by Garden State Equality, which had claimed that the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of the federal Defense of Marriage Act meant that same-sex couples in civil unions in New Jersey were being denied equal protection.

From NJ.com :  The gay rights groups Garden State Equality and Lambda Legal had argued that after the U.S. Supreme Court extended more than 1,000 tax and inheritance benefits to same-sex couples in June, New Jersey was left behind with second-class civil unions.

Jacobson, the head judge in Mercer County, agreed:

“The ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits is currently harming same-sex couples in New Jersey in a wide range of contexts,” she wrote.  (Emphasis is mine).

For example, the judge said, “civil union partners who are federal employees living in New Jersey are ineligible for marital rights with regard to the federal pension system, all civil union partners who are employees working for businesses to which the Family and Medical Leave Act applies may not rely on its statutory protections for spouses, and civil union couples may not access the federal tax benefits that married couples enjoy.”

Jacobson was asked to square the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June striking down the Defense of Marriage Act with New Jersey’s own legal precedents.

New Jersey would become the 14th state to recognize same-sex

The decision is expected to be appealed, first to an intermediate court, and then to the state Supreme Court.

Today’s ruling below: