Advocates for gay marriage in New Jersey gather outside the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J. A judge could order New Jersey to recognize gay marriages after a hearing Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013.
(Photo: Mel Evans, AP)
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - A New Jersey judge has ruled that the state must allow same-sex couples to marry.
Judge Mary Jacobson says now that the federal government recognizes gay marriages, not doing so in New Jersey would violate the state constitution.
Her order says the marriages could begin Oct. 21, which gives the state time to appeal and ask for a stay to block marriages from happening.
Gov. Chris Christie is opposed to gay marriage, but his administration has not said yet whether it will appeal.
In Friday's ruling, the judge accepted the position of lawyers from gay rights groups that the state is blocking citizens from receiving federal benefits.
New Jersey's top court ruled in 2006 that gay couples had to have the same legal rights as married couples. Same-sex couples in New Jersey presently can enter into civil unions.
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