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New Jersey high court rules same-sex couples must be given equal rights

[JURIST] top story The New Jersey Supreme Court [official website] on Wednesday ruled [PDF text] that same-sex couples in the state must be afforded the same rights as heterosexual couples, and said that the state legislature must decide whether New Jersey will recognize same-sex marriage or another form of civil unions. In a case brought by seven same-sex couples who argued that they should be allowed to marry under the New Jersey State Constitution [text], the state supreme court overturned a 2005 New Jersey appellate court ruling [JURIST report] that upheld the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Under Wednesday's ruling, the state legislature has 180 days to amend the state's marriage laws.

Currently, Massachusetts is the only state to allow same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive], which was legalized when the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts [official] ruled [JURIST report] in 2003 that a ban on such marriages was unconstitutional. Several cases similar to the New Jersey case have been decided or are pending in other states including California, Washington, Tennessee, Nebraska, and Connecticut [JURIST reports]. AP has more.

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