Same-sex couples may legally marry in New Jersey beginning Oct. 21, a Mercer County judge ruled on Friday.
The decision overruled Governor Chris Christie's veto of a gay marriage bill in February 2012. The bill, which was passed by the state legislature, would have legalized same-sex marriage in New Jersey. Same-sex civil unions have been recognized by the state since 2006, but Judge Mary Jacobson of the State Superior Court said Friday that same-sex marriage must be allowed in order for couples to have equal protection under the law.
“The ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits is currently harming same-sex couples in New Jersey in a wide range of contexts,” Jacobson wrote in the ruling.
The verdict follows a June Supreme Court ruling that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and granted federal benefits to married same-sex couples only in states where gay marriage is legal.
Christie's opponent Barbara Buonocalled the ruling"a tremendous victory for everyone who believes in equality."
State Representative Rush Holt said the decision came after years of discrimination, injustice and legal uncertainty. “Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson’s decision is both legally and morally sound, and I congratulate Garden State Equality on this victory," Holt said in a press release.
Christie has said he will appeal the ruling.