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Dublin: 7 °C Sunday 23 November, 2014

New Jersey politicians will appeal judge’s ruling enforcing gay marriages

Governor Chris Christie is caught between his state’s liberal leanings and his ambitions to win the Republican nomination for president in 2016

Campaigners embrace after a judge ruled that New Jersey is unconstitutionally denying federal benefits to gay couples.
Campaigners embrace after a judge ruled that New Jersey is unconstitutionally denying federal benefits to gay couples.
Image: AP Photo/Julio Cortez

NEW JERSEY LAWMAKERS in Governor Chris Christie’s adminisation will appeal a judge’s ruling yesterday that said the US state must allow gay couples to marry

The judge, Mary Jacobson, sided with gay and lesbian couples and a gay rights group that argued the state government is violating New Jersey’s constitution by denying federal benefits to the couples by not letting them marry. She said the state must allow gay couples to wed beginning on 21 October.

The ruling was the first of its kind in any state court relying on a June US Supreme Court ruling that struck down key parts of a law that blocked the federal government from granting benefits to gay couples.

“Every day that the state does not allow same-sex couples to marry, plaintiffs are being harmed,” Jacobson wrote, citing specifically same-sex couples who include a federal employee, those who want to use the federal Family Medical Leave Act or those who file joint federal tax returns.

Whatever course Governor Chris Christie chose had the potential of putting the Republican governor in a tough spot politically.

He’s seeking re-election in a state where polls show broad support for gay marriage and where the legislature passed a law last year to allow it. At the same time, he’s seen as a possible contender for the Republican nomination for president in 2016 — a position that requires winning over relatively conservative Republican electorates in some states with early primaries.

Still, he has been resolute about his position, favouring civil unions and opposing gay marriage.

On Friday, Christie refused to take questions about the ruling, instead issuing a brief statement through a spokesman.

“Gov. Christie has always maintained that he would abide by the will of the voters on the issue of marriage equality and called for it to be on the ballot this election day,” said spokesman Michael Drewniak. “Since the Legislature refused to allow the people to decide expeditiously, we will let the Supreme Court make this constitutional determination.”

Thirteen states now recognize same-sex marriages, including the all in the north east except for Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

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