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Same-sex couples must be permitted to marry in New Jersey, a state judge ruled Friday, arguing that the parallel label "civil unions," which the state already allows gay couples, is illegally preventing them from getting federal benefits, CNN reports.
The judge ordered that same-sex marriages be allowed starting October 21. But the date could be delayed on appeal, and the office of Gov. Chris Christie indicated the case would be appealed to the New Jersey Supreme Court.
The ruling cites the U.S. Supreme Court's June rejection of part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a move that ensured same-sex spouses legally married in a state may receive federal benefits.
After the DOMA ruling, some federal agencies are extending benefits to legally married same-sex couples, but denying them to same-sex couples in "civil unions," Judge Mary Jacobson of Mercer County Superior Court wrote in her ruling Friday.