same-sex marriage, gay marriage in New Jersey A wedding cake is seen at a reception for same-sex couples at The Abbey in West Hollywood, California, July 1, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson


A New Jersey judge ordered state officials to allow same-sex couples to marry starting October 21, ruling the current system of civil unions is invalid under the state constitution's equal protection requirements.


Judge Mary Jacobson in Mercer County Superior Court in Trenton issued the order as part of long-running litigation brought by a group of gay couples against the state.


New Jersey, which can appeal the ruling, would become the 14th state to permit gay marriage. The District of Columbia has also legalized same-sex marriage.