Same-sex marriage in New Jersey has been legalized following a ruling Friday afternoon by a Middlesex County Superior Court judge.
Judge Mary C. Jacobson ruled that any official empowered to perform marriages within the state must do so for any same-sex couples, beginning Oct. 21, according to court documents.
Jacobson's ruling comes months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, and turns on many of the same points.
She wrote that couples who enter into a civil union are denied federal benefits reserved for married couples, which creates an inequality that is illegal.
Six couples filed an emergency request against state officials including New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dowd; Jennifer Velez, the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services; and Mary O’Dowd, the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.
Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver hailed the decision Friday afternoon, saying "This is a great victory for civil rights and treating everyone equally under the law," in a prepared statement.
The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that same-sex couples can receive the rights and benefits heterosexual couples were granted through marriage, but left it up to the state Legislature to determine what it should be called. The Legislature decided on the term civil union.
Gov. Chris Christie has already promised to veto any state legislative effort to legalize same-sex marriage, and is expected to appeal the decision.
As of the 2010 census, Collingswood is home to an estimated 132 unmarried, same-sex couples: 77 male-male and 55 female-female. Of those households, 22 are raising children (10 male-male and 11 female-female couples).
Comparatively, the 2010 census also estimates that Collingswood is home to 576 unmarried-partner households, 444 of which are heterosexual couples. Of those, 122 are raising children. There are also an estimated 2,320 traditional husband-wife households in the borough, 990 of which are raising children.