[JURIST] New Jersey Attorney General Stuart Rabner [official profile] issued an opinion [PDF text; press release] Friday concluding that same-sex marriages and civil unions [JURIST news archives] from out-of-state jurisdictions will be afforded "all of the rights and benefits of marriage" under New Jersey's civil unions law [PDF text] that will come into effect on Monday, February 19. Same-sex civil unions recognized by Vermont and Connecticut, as well as same-sex partnerships under California law, will be treated as equivalents of civil unions in New Jersey. Same-sex marriages are legal in Massachusetts, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa and Spain. Ed Barocas, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey [advocacy website] characterized [press release] the decision as "a momentous day in the fight for equality and respect for all New Jersey families... however, there still exists a two-tiered system of rights, and separate is never equal." Domestic partnerships in other jurisdictions that have less rights and benefits than marriage, will be considered domestic partners in New Jersey.
New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine [official website] signed [JURIST report] the state's civil union legislation into law in December 2006. The civil unions bill was passed in compliance with a New Jersey Supreme Court ruling [JURIST report] in October that said the state legislature had 180 days to decide whether the state would recognize same-sex marriage or another form of civil partnership. AP has more.