A New Jersey judge has ruled the state must allow same-sex couples to marry.
Judge Mary Jacobson said now that the federal government recognizes gay marriages, not doing so in New Jersey would violate the state constitution. Her order said the marriages could begin Oct. 21, which gives the state time to appeal and ask for a stay to block marriages from happening.
A spokesperson for Governor Chris Christie said the governor will appeal the ruling. The following is a statement from the governor's press secretary:
“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. Since the legislature refused to allow the people to decide expeditiously, we will let the Supreme Court make this constitutional determination.”
In Friday's ruling, the judge accepted the position of lawyers from gay rights groups that the state is blocking citizens from receiving federal benefits. New Jersey's top court ruled in 2006 that gay couples had to have the same legal rights as married couples. Same-sex couples in New Jersey presently can enter into civil unions.
There was mixed reaction from people at diner in Phillipsburg, New Jersey Friday night.
"I think it's a great step forward for the state of Jersey," said Kristin Rafferty of Phillipsburg. "I think it's fantastic. I think it's absoultey fantastic that they would get these rights. I think they deserve them."
Donald English of Easton, PA said, "I'm not necessarily for it but I don't want to see it institutionalized."
"I disagree with the governor when he says that he's waiting for the public to vote that way because the public doesn't vote for everybody's rights all the time. If we left the public to vote for racial equality, who knows where we'd be," said Nancy Bloom of Monroe Twp., NJ.
"To try to redefine the family as being something other than one man and one woman goes against a lot of things," said John Angeleri of Phillipsburg.
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