Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson has ruled today in Garden State Equality v. Dow that same sex couples must be allowed to marry in NJ! Marriage equality currently set to start on October 21st.
In arguments before Jacobson in August, Lambda Legal’s lawyer, Lawrence Lustberg, said that not allowing same-sex couples to marry will have “devastating” consequences because the federal government denies a wide array of benefits to couples who are not married. He said the question is a matter of equal protection under the law and has moral overtones.
Jacobson agreed, ruling that the ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits hurts them in “a wide range of contexts,” such as pension benefits, family leave protections and tax benefits.
“If the trend of federal agencies deeming civil union partners ineligible for benefits continues, plaintiffs will suffer even more, while their opposite-sex New Jersey counterparts continue to receive federal marital benefits for no reason other than the label placed upon their relationship by the state,” the judge wrote. Such unequal treatment “requires that New Jersey extend civil marriage to same-sex couples to satisfy the equal protection guarantees of the New Jersey Constitution.”