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N.J. court rules for rights of same-sex partners

Posted On: Oct. 26, 2006 12:00 AM CST

TRENTON, N.J.--Committed same-sex couples must be granted the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples under the civil marriage statutes, the New Jersey Supreme Court said Wednesday in a 4-3 decision.

The decision, however, leaves it up to the state Legislature to decide, within 180 days, whether to amend the state's marriage statutes to include same-sex couples or to create a separate statutory structure, such as a civil union.

Observers note that New Jersey's Legislature approved a Domestic Partnership Act in 2004, although it does not apply to self-insured employers and explicitly does not require employers to provide dependent coverage for an employee's domestic partner.