NJ Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Marriage Case
Friday the New Jersey Supreme Court announced it would hear both the merits of the marriage case as well as the appeal on the stay motion.
“Time is of the essence and it’s great the court is moving so quickly,” said Hayley Gorenberg, Deputy Legal Director of Lambda Legal. “We are looking forward to making our case at the New Jersey Supreme Court for the families in New Jersey who need marriage to better protect their families.”
In June 2011, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit seeking the freedom to marry, arguing that barring same-sex couples from marriage and relegating them to civil union violates both the New Jersey Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment of the federal Constitution. This June, the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of DOMA, and Lambda Legal filed a motion for summary judgment in the New Jersey case, arguing that by barring marriage, the state of New Jersey now denies same-sex couples the full range of federal benefits, rights, and protections available after the Windsor decision. Just last Friday, on September 27, 2013, the New Jersey Superior Court ruled that same-sex couples in New Jersey must be allowed to marry. Unless it is stayed pending appeal, the decision takes effect on October 21.
In 2002, Lambda Legal filed a historic case, Lewis v. Harris, seeking marriage equality on behalf of seven New Jersey couples. The case reached the New Jersey Supreme Court in 2006. The high court ruled unanimously that same-sex couples must be provided all the benefits and responsibilities of marriage, although it declined at that time to mandate that marriage was specifically required, and gave the state legislature 180 days to provide equality. The legislature hastily passed a civil union law in December 2006, and began issuing civil union licenses to lesbian and gay couples in February 2007. In both the 2002 Lewis case as well as the current case, Garden State Equality. v. Dow, the Gibbons Firm has been a strong pro bono partner with Lambda Legal contributing to the fight for the freedom to marry in New Jersey.