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New Jersey court rules state must allow same-sex marriage

A state judge ruled New Jersey's ban on gay marriage made same-sex couples ineligible for federal benefits the Supreme Court said they must be able to receive.

By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com
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New Jersey court rules state must allow same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage supporters rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as the Court hears arguments on same-sex marriage, on March 26, 2013 in Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court is hearing arguments on Califonia's ban on same-sex marriage. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

A New Jersey state judge rules same-sex marriages must be allowed in the state, citing this summer's Supreme Court decision.

Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ordered state officials to begin officiating gay marriages on October 21, granting an emergency request by six gay couples who said they would be denied federal benefits if the state only allowed civil unions.

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Gov. Chris Christie, who already vetoed a bill passed by New Jersey state lawmakers to legalize gay marriage, can challenge the ruling.

Christie's administration had argued the matter was federal, not state, benefits, but gay rights groups, led by Garden State Equality and Lambda Legal, successfully argued the 1,000-plus federal tax and inheritance benefits extended to married couples were out of reach to New Jersey's same-sex couples, relegating them to second-class status.

"The ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits is currently harming same-sex couples in New Jersey in a wide range of contexts," Judge Jacobson wrote.

"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," she said.

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