Judge says same-sex couples in N.J. can marry

TRENTON  –  A Mercer County judge issued an order today allowing gay couples the right to marry in New Jersey.

Judge Mary Jacobson has granted Garden State Equality’s request for summary judgment to permit same-sex couples to marry.

The ruling, which almost certainly would be appealed, is the latest chapter in an ongoing legal battle over same-sex marriage prospects.

Jacobson said that as of Oct. 21, the state “shall permit’’ same-sex couples to marry.

Troy Stevenson, executive director of Garden State Equality, cheered the decision. “I said three months ago we would win this through litigation or legislation,” he said today.  “And we just won the first round through litigation.

“We’re not going to stop until we guarantee the right to marriage to all New Jersey couples.”

The case was brought to Mercer County after the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year held that the federal government must extend federal marital benefits to same-sex couples in states that have civil union laws.

In light of that decision, Garden State Equality argued that same-sex couples in New Jersey now were being deprived of their rights.

The fight over gay marriage in New Jersey stalled earlier this year when Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a gay marriage bill. 

Gay marriage supporters were calling on lawmakers to override the veto.

Republican opponents of the legislative approach had called for putting the question before voters in a referendum, but Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney had said he was against placing a civil rights issue up to popular vote.

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Judge says same-sex couples in N.J. can marry