garriagegetty 300x125 New Jersey Judge Rules That Same Sex Couples Must Have Equal Marriage Rights (UPDATED)

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Fantastic news, as equality is moving ever forward in New Jersey:

A state court judge said in a ruling Friday that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in New Jersey, and that the rights given to them under the state’s civil unions law are not equal to federal benefits now granted to married gay couples.

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.

“The ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits is currently harming same-sex couples in New Jersey in a wide range of contexts,” the judge said.

Governor Christie will likely appeal the ruling, but it sure would be nice if he’d just drop it and let it happen, since his state supports equality by a wide margin.

UPDATE: Though an appeal is still basically a foregone conclusion, the original report omitted this detail:

A state judge today ruled to legalize same-sex marriage in New Jersey, saying gay couples would be denied federal benefits if the state kept allowing only civil unions.

Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson granted an emergency request by six gay couples, ordering state officials to begin officiating same-sex marriages on Oct. 21.

So, unless the ruling is stayed, then, at least for the moment, New Jersey is the fourteenth marriage equality state.