(Reuters) A New Jersey judge ordered state officials on Friday to allow same-sex couples to marry starting on October 21, saying the current civil union system unfairly deprived them of federal benefits available to married couples.
A spokesman for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie indicated the state would appeal, but did not say whether it would seek a stay to stop the ruling from taking effect.
Judge Mary Jacobson in Mercer County Superior Court in Trenton issued the order, making New Jersey the first state to lift a ban on gay marriage as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in June to strike down the federal law defining marriage as between a man and a woman.
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"Same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey constitution," she wrote.