What’s Going on with Marriage Equality in New Jersey?
There is less than one week until the court-ordered start date for marriage equality in New Jersey officially arrives! However, the ruling is coming up against some barriers that might put a hold on same-sex marriages. Here’s what you need to know about same-sex marriage in New Jersey:
In 2006, the state’s highest court ruled that in response to the Supreme Court case, Lewis v. Harris, which advocated against domestic partnerships, same-sex couples were entitled to the rights and benefits of marriage. But the court did not grant same-sex couples the right to marry. As a result the Legislature passed a bill to allow civil unions in New Jersey, which would still not allow same-sex couples the same benefits as married couples.
Last year, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill passed by the Legislature that would allow same-sex marriages.
Last week, a New Jersey judge ruled the decision to allow same-sex couples to marry, saying that not recognizing same-sex unions as marriages deprives couples of the rights guaranteed by the United States Supreme Court in June. This is the first time a court has struck down a state’s refusal to legally recognize same-sex marriage.
As a response, Governor Chris Christie’s administration attempted to challenge the decision, appealing to the state’s highest court and seeking a stay, which would prevent same-sex marriages from beginning on October 21, as the court had ruled.
Trial Court Judge Mary Jacobson rejected the state’s request to put marriage equality on hold. In September, Jacobson ruled that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry and to receive equal protection of the law under the New Jersey Constitution. The United State Supreme Court’s ruling to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act meant that the federal government must provide the same benefits to same-sex married couples it does to heterosexual married couples. However, same-sex marriages are only recognized in 13 states and the District of Columbia. The Supreme Court’s decision fueled New Jersey’s imperative to provide marriage equality to same-sex couples.
Now, Governor Christie’s administration had requested that the state’s Appellate Division delay the start date.
The Torah teaches that “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). Gay and lesbian couples should not be denied the rights provided to heterosexual couples. Hopefully the Appeals Court will rule against Governor’s opposition to same-sex marriage and gay and lesbian couples will have the opportunity to legally marry in the state of New Jersey next week!
Picture Courtesy of DavidMixner.com