New Jersey Court Rules that Same-Sex Couples Should Be Allowed to Marry

Affiliate: ACLU of New Jersey
September 27, 2013 4:14 pm

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TRENTON, N.J. – A state judge in New Jersey today ruled that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry. Ruling in the case Garden State Equality v. Dow, the judge stated in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey constitution, same-sex couples must be allowed to marry.

New Jersey and Pennsylvania are the only two states in the northeast that do not allow same-sex couples to marry. In 2007, the state allowed for same-sex couples to enter civil unions, but not marriage. In 2012, the state legislature passed a bill allowing for same-sex couples to marry. The bill was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie. The court’s decision puts New Jersey on the road to becoming the eighth state in the past twelve months to open the freedom to marry to same-sex couples.

Also today, a state court in Illinois ruled that a freedom to marry case there could proceed to trial.

“This is a great day for all of New Jersey. The court has recognized the love and commitment that same-sex couples share is no different from anyone else’s,” said Udi Ofer, executive director of the ACLU of New Jersey. “The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act made it clear that civil unions discriminate against same-sex New Jersey couples. Today’s decision leaves no doubt that only the freedom to marry provides the equality that same-sex families deserve. We encourage the state to respect the court’s decision and to not further prolong the inequality suffered by New Jersey families. The ACLU-NJ will continue to work with our allies across the state to encourage the legislature to bring full equality to New Jersey as soon as possible.”

“The court got it exactly right. Civil unions aren’t marriage, and they aren’t equal,” said James Esseks, director of the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “No married couple would trade the word ‘marriage’ for the words ‘civil union.’ But while we praise today’s ruling, committed same-sex couples shouldn’t have to wait for the courts. The legislature should grant them the freedom to marry now.”

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