A judge for New Jersey's Mercer County Superior Court in Trenton ruled [opinion, PDF] Friday that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry. Judge Mary Jacobson found that the current status of civil unions deprive same-sex couples of federal benefits enjoyed by married couples. In light of the recent US Supreme Court decision in US v. Windsor [SCOTUSBlog backgrounder; JURIST report], Jacobson found that "Same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey constitution." Opponents of the ruling claim that such a decision should be put to a referendum. This has long been the position of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who vowed to appeal the ruling [NJ News report]. Same-sex marriage supporters praised the decision as one step closer to achieving equality and plan to fight the state's eventual appeal.
The heated debate over same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is one of the most polarizing issues currently facing the American legal community. Last week Michigan's Treasury Department ruled [JURIST report] that same-sex spouses must file separate tax returns. On Wednesday a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio [official website] expanded a lawsuit [JURIST report] seeking the recognition of same-sex spouses on death certificates. Judge Timothy Black ruled in