Gay couples in New Jersey will be able to marry starting on Monday at 12:01AM. This after the state Supreme Court denied a request by Republican Gov. Chris Christie's administration request to delay a lower court's ruling that same-sex marriages must begin on Monday, reported the Star-Ledger.
"The public interest does not favor a stay," the Supreme Court ruled in a 7-0 decision by Chief Justice Stuart Rabner today. "State officials shall therefore permit same-sex couples, who are otherwise eligible, to enter into civil marriage beginning on October 21, 2013."
Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ruled Sept. 27 that same-sex couples were being denied equal rights and hundreds of federal benefits in the wake of a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in June striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. She declined last week to issue a stay, which would have delayed the first same-sex marriages planned for Monday, saying Christie was likely to lose his appeal and that gay couples "would suffer many hardships of constitutional magnitude if the stay were to be issued, but the state has not demonstrated how it would suffer in any meaningful way."
The court will not make a final ruling on same-sex marriage rights until next year.
The September ruling by Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson made New Jersey the first state to respond to the historic United States Supreme Court decision that struck down a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act. Section Three of the Defense of Marriage Act prohibited federal recognition of legally married same-sex couples and denied more than 1,000 benefits, such as Social Security, pension benefits and preferential tax treatment. The federal government quickly responded to the Supreme Court ruling with a suite of improvements—from allowing married same-sex couples to file joint income tax returns to mandating health care benefits for the same-sex spouses of civil servants and members of the armed forces.
The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that the state could not deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples. The state legislature voted in December of that year to permit civil unions, becoming only the third state to do so.
Almost six years after New Jersey began offering civil unions for same-sex couples, the state legislature approved marriage equality legislation in February 2012. Chrisite quickly vetoed the legislation. Legislators have attempted to override the veto before the current session ends in January 2014. The Star-Ledger reports 12 more votes are needed in the Assembly and two more in the Senate.
Thirteen states—California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington—and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriage. New Jersey would become the fourteenth state. Several counties in New Mexico and six Native American tribal jurisdictions also allow same-sex marriage.