Marsha and Louise, Cindy and Maureen, and thousands of other same-sex couples are going to have to wait a little longer to learn if they will be able to marry in New Jersey, since a Mercer County Superior Court Judge in Trenton Thursday said she would reserve judgment on the matter until at least September.
New Jersey is the first state to hear testimony on the issue following the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act seven weeks ago.
Marriage-equality activists have gone to court saying that New Jersey must act quickly to prevent further discrimination against same-sex couples because they are being prevented from enjoying federal benefits when they are joined in civil unions, as opposed to marriage. They are asking Judge Mary Jacobson to order that same-sex marriage be made legal immediately, since the state Supreme Court ruling allowing for civil unions was based on the idea that there was no difference legally between a civil union and marriage. Now that the U.S. government bestows benefits on same-sex partners who are married, but not those in civil unions, they argue that the state law is no longer valid.
New Jersey Assistant Attorney General Kevin Jespersen argued that Jacobson does not have the authority to overturn the state’s current civil union law and that it’s too soon to do so anyway without a full trial. Garden State Equality, which filed a motion for summary judgment days after the U.S. Supreme Court decision, argued there is no need to wait and gay couples are being harmed every day.
“Civil unions are not equal to marriage,” stated Lawrence Lustberg, who is representing Garden State Equality, as he began making his case before Jacobson. “There is ongoing harm every single day for people who are denied their federal benefits because of the fact they are not permitted to be married.”
Read more at NJSpotlight.com
NJ Spotlight is an issue-driven news website that provides critical insight to New Jersey’s communities and businesses. It is non-partisan, independent, policy-centered and community-minded.