Same-sex marriage (SSM) in New Jersey
2011-NOV to now: Court case
"Garden State Equality v. Dow" proceeds
In this essay:
"SSM" refers to same-sex marriage;
LGBT refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transsexuals
2011-NOV-04: State Superior Court rules case can proceed:
Back in 2006, the state Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples must have access to the same rights and privileges as are routinely given to married opposite-sex couples. In response, the legislature later created a system of civil unions.
Although civil unions sound workable in theory, they have proven to be inadequate in practice. Same-sex partners have been unable to make emergency decisions for their spouses in hospitals. Their employers often refuse to extend health benefits to their spouses. One of the plaintiffs, Danny Weiss, 46, of Asbury Park NJ, said that staff in an New York hospital emergency room would not recognize his civil union with his partner, John Grant. In 2010. Grant was hit by a car and nearly died. Weiss said:
"We are one of those victims of this failed experiment. We’re doing this because I don’t want any other couple to have to go through this."
The case "Garden State Equality v. Dow" is based on the claim that the state's civil unions have failed to give same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex married couples. The case was argued on the basis of equality clauses in the state Constitution and also in the 14th Amendment of the Federal Constitution.
On NOV-04, Superior Court Assignment Judge Linda Feinberg ruled that the seven same-sex couple plaintiffs do not have a fundamental right to marry under state law. However, they can proceed with their case in an attempt to prove that the state's civil union law does not give them benefits equal to those enjoyed by opposite-sex married couples.
She rejected the testimony of Assistant Attorney General Robert Lougy who sought to have the case dismissed. He had argued that the civil union system was working well. If some same-sex couples had personal problems with hospitals and employers, they could simply claim that the latter were violating the law. He argued:
"If there are violations of the statute, that doesn’t render the statute unconstitutional, your honor."
Judge Feinberg ruled:
"I don’t think that the court can remain silent and take no action if ... the result is that those benefits are not equal in the protections."
She dismissed the claim that the civil unions violated the federal Constitution's guarantees of due process and equal protection. However, she allowed the couples to continue the case on the basis that the civil unions are unconstitutional under the state constitution because the rights they deliver are unequal to those that married couples receive.
Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality, described the ruling as:
"... a sweet moment ... It is time for the state of New Jersey to end the evil experiment of civil unions that is failing same-sex couples."
John Tomicki, president of the New Jersey Coalition to Preserve and Protect Marriage -- a group whose main function is to deny marriage to same-sex couples, criticized Garden State Equality because they have gone from the court system to the legislature and back to the courts without any successes. Tomicki suggested that the best solution would be a referendum in which the voters could decide whether the state constitution should be amended to allow same-sex marriage. 1,2,3
2012-FEB-21: Superior Court Judge reinstates validity of argument:
Superior Court Assignment Judge Linda Feinberg formally ruled that the plaintiffs can argue in court that denying same-sex couples access to marriage by only allowing them to enter into civil unions violates both the New Jersey constitution and the U.S. Constitution. This argument had previously been dismissed.
Jon Davidson, legal director at Lambda Legal, said:
"We are pleased that the New Jersey Superior Court will allow us to show how civil unions fail to provide to same-sex couples the equality promised by both the New Jersey Constitution and the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution."
"Having both a state and federal equal protection claim will only make our case stronger. We look forward to presenting a complete record of the discrimination that New Jersey's same-sex couples and their children face because of their relegation to civil unions rather than marriage." 4,5
More news is expected
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- MaryAnn Spoto, "N.J. judge OKs suit seeking gay marriages over civil unions," The Star-Ledger, 2011-NOV-05, at: http://www.nj.com/
- Joe Wolverton, II, "N.J. Court Allows Homosexual Marriage Suit to Proceed," New American, 2011-NOV-09, at: http://thenewamerican.com/
- "Gay Marriage Lawsuit Moving Forward In New Jersey," WCBS, 2011-NOV-04, at: http://newyork.cbslocal.com/
- Geoff Mulvihill, "Part of gay marriage suit is reinstated," Associated Press, 2012-FEB-22, at:
- Carlos Santoscoy, "New Jersey Judge Reinstates Federal Claim In Gay Marriage Suit," On Top magazine, 2012-FEB-22, at: http://www.ontopmag.com/
Copyright © 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally posted: 2012-JAN-09
Latest update: 2012-FEB-23
Author: B.A. Robinson