A three-member state appeals panel sitting in New Jersey unanimously has ruled that Rutgers University does not have to provide health benefits to domestic partners. The panel concluded that the state is only mandated to provide benefits to spouses of state employees under a law established in 1961. The law, however, does not cover live-in partners who are not married. The decision could ultimately affect all of the state’s 600,000 employees and comes at a time when the state legislature is considering two bills which would outlaw same-sex marriages. New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman is opposed to same-sex marriages, but a spokeswoman said that the governor would not necessarily fight a law which would extend benefits to domestic partners. The state supreme court is not required to review the case because the opinion was unanimous, but parties on both sides of the issue say they expect the state’s highest court will grant review.