NJ Supreme Court Judge Rules in Favor of Marriage for Same-Sex Couples in Garden State

New Jersey soon may no longer be one of the only two states in the northeast region not to recognize marriage equality.

Judge Mary Jacobson of the Mercer County Superior Court ruled today that given the federal Supreme Court decision granting recognition to marriage for same-sex couples, New Jersey’s system of civil unions is inherently unequal and that those in NJ are entitled to full marriage equality. If the state does not appeal the ruling (NJ United for Marriage is currently raising funds to push the cause with state legislators), marriages could begin as soon as Oct. 21.

“I have had the same opinion for my entire adult life…It is beyond me and sad that in the year 2013 we still have courts and politicians who even deliberate second class ‘civil union’ designation between two people who love each other,” said Mayor Steve Fulop. “Our state has enough broken families, enough single parents, and enough problems, that it makes no sense to me why we wouldn’t be supportive of people who love each other and seek marriage.”

“We have a thriving and loving LGBT community here in Jersey City and I’m proud to have many members of that community as my constituents and my friends,” says Ward E Councilwoman Candice Osborne. “Of course they have every right to marry, just as any two people who declare a lifetime of love should be able to get married.”

Ward C Councilman Rich Boggiano added, “I say live and let live. The debate surrounding gay marriage is mostly informed by individuals’ religious beliefs. The government shouldn’t tell religious institutions what to believe or what marriages to bless within the confines of their religion, but likewise religious institutions shouldn’t dictate secular government policy, especially when it comes to a fundamental civil right like marriage. In a few years we will look back and wonder how anyone could have ever opposed gay marriage just as I look back today and can’t fathom how slavery was ever accepted in the United States.”

“I am okay with both heterosexual and same sex marriages, I think that we as human being should have the right to choose the pathway of happiness. Marriage equality is about more than Just a marriage, it’s about something greater, it is about acceptance,” says Councilman-At-Large- Daniel Rivera.

The issue also received support from other local pols like State Senator Brian Stack, Assemblyman Charles Mainor, Freeholder Bill O’Dea and County Executive Tom DeGise.

In August, DeGise helped raise an LGBT flag in front of the Hudson County courthouse in Jersey City. “We were the first county to do so, and we’re very proud of that,” he says.

“Civil unions are separate and unequal, particularly in light of this year’s historic Supreme Court term,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin. “There are no rational arguments why couples in New Jersey should be relegated to second class status. State officials should not appeal this sound decision and no longer stand in the way of loving couples being able to make a lifelong commitment with full state and federal recognition.”

Summer Dawn Hortillosa contributed to this report

JCI file photo

Matt Hunger

is a former staff writer for the Jersey City Independent.