The unanimous 7-0 decision denied Gov. Chris Christie’s request to postpone Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson’s Sept. 27 ruling that found the state’s civil unions law prevents same-sex couples from obtaining federal marriage benefits until the justices rule on his administration’s appeal of it.
The U.S. Supreme Court in June found a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.
“The state’s statutory scheme effectively denies committed same-sex partners in New Jersey the ability to receive federal benefits not afforded to married partners,” the New Jersey Supreme Court decision reads.
New Jersey on Monday will join 13 other states and D.C. in which gays and lesbians can marry.
LGBT rights advocates have filed lawsuits on behalf of same-sex couples seeking marriage rights in neighboring Pennsylvania and other states that include Virginia, Ohio, Nevada and New Mexico.
Illinois lawmakers next week are poised to potentially debate a measure that would extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Lawmakers in Hawaii will consider the issue in a special legislative session that begins on Oct. 28.
BuzzFeed on Friday reported that Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who defeated former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan earlier this week in the U.S. Senate race to succeed the late-New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg, will officiate several same-sex weddings at 12:01 a.m. on Monday. Asbury Park and other municipalities on Friday began to issue marriage licenses to gays and lesbians in spite of an order from the New Jersey Department of Health that told them not to do so until the state Supreme Court ruled.
“On Monday, New Jersey will begin to tear down its Berlin Wall separating straight people who had total freedom, and LGBT people who have not,” Steven Goldstein, founder of Garden State Equality, a statewide LGBT advocacy group, said in a statement. “Governor Christie, not even you have the power to resurrect that wall.”
“The long wait in New Jersey is finally over: the door is open for love, commitment and equality under the law,” Haley Gorenberg, deputy legal director of Lambda Legal, which filed the same-sex marriage case on behalf of Garden State Equality and six same-sex couples in 2011, added. “This is a huge victory for New Jersey’s same-sex couples and their families.”
The state Supreme Court in January is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Christie’s appeal.
Lawmakers have until Jan. 14 to override the governor’s 2012 veto of a same-sex marriage bill.
“The Supreme Court has made its determination,” Christie spokesperson Michael Drewniak said in a statement. “While the governor firmly believes that this determination should be made by all the people of the state of New Jersey, he has instructed the Department of Health to cooperate with all municipalities in effectuating the order of the Superior Court under the applicable law.”