New Jersey has recognized civil unions between same-sex couples since 2007, after the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the state must allow same-sex couples all the rights and benefits of marriage. As far as state rights and benefits went, civil unions and marriages differed only in label, Jacobson noted.
New Jersey is one of four states that offer civil unions, but not marriage, to same-sex couples. The others are Colorado, Hawaii and Illinois.
Same-sex marriage is legal in 13 U.S states -- California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington -- as well as the District of Columbia.
Same-sex marriage is banned in every state not mentioned above, except for New Mexico, which has no laws banning or allowing it.