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civil union law wasn't fulfilling its intention because it created a separate classification for gay couples. The state Supreme Court sent the issue to a lower court. Supreme Court ruling in June on the Defense of Marriage Act changed the argument, and the couples asked anew for speedy relief.
One of the plaintiffs, Marcye Nicholson McFadden, said she and her partner of 24 years, Karen Nicholson McFadden, were trying to absorb the news.
"I want to shout from the rooftops, but I just have to keep myself in check," said Marcye Nicholson McFadden, of Aberdeen, as she braced for the expected appeal.
The state Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 2006 that same sex couples had the right to the same legal protections as married couples, but a 4 3 majority ruled that the state didn't have to go as far as calling those benefits marriage. Lawmakers responded by quickly creating civil unions.
Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak said the governor "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."
Christie refused to take questions about the ruling after attending a college groundbreaking ceremony near Trenton.
The question of gay marriage is also in the Legislature. In 2012, lawmakers passed a law to allow gay marriage, but Christie vetoed it.
"It shows the deep error the state's been making in refusing to let people marry on an equal basis," Gorenberg said.
"Since the legislature refused to allow the people to decide expeditiously," he said in a statement, "we will let the Supreme Court make this constitutional determination."
"For our state, essentially, this is judicial activism again, one judge implementing same sex marriage on New Jersey," he said.
It's been a major political and legal issue in New Jersey for more than a decade.
On Friday, Democratic lawmakers called on Christie not to appeal the ruling.
Lambda Legal lawyer Hayley Gorenberg, who prepared the lawsuit, said the judge "has issued a very thorough and powerful opinion that shows the correctness under the constitution of our claims."
Gay marriage supporters planned to rally Friday night in Montclair to celebrate the ruling.
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recognize same sex marriage, including the entire Northeast except for Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican in the midst of a re election campaign and a possible presidential contender, said through a spokesman Friday he plans to appeal the decision, which he believes should be determined by a popular vote rather than a court.
"It is also a stark reminder that Governor Christie stands on the wrong side of history," said state Sen. Barbara Buono, who's running for governor and has an openly gay daughter. "At every turn, he has prevented our gay brothers and sisters from enjoying the same rights as other New Jerseyans."
Supreme Court struck down key parts of a law that blocked the federal government from granting benefits to gay couples.
Even if Friday's summary judgment is ultimately rejected, the broader case would remain, though it likely would take several months before a trial could be held.
New Jersey allows same sex couples to enter into civil unions that give them some of the same legal protections as married couples, but the judge said the two labels marriage for opposite sex couples and civil unions for same sex couples exclude gay couples "from certain federal benefits that legally married same sex couples are able to enjoy."
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 are being hurt by the state's recognition of civil unions but not gay marriage, she wrote.
Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, one of the state's more visible social conservative groups, criticized the ruling.
The Christie administration argued that it's the federal government's patchwork of policies that's keeping lesbian and gay couples in New Jersey from having the same federal benefits as heterosexual couples.
Thirteen states Skechers Ankle Boots Uk
Federal agencies have rolled out a variety of policies on whether they will recognize marriages of any gay couples or only those in states that recognize their vows.
State must allow gay couples to marry
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