NJ Judge Rules on Same-Sex Marriages


New Jersey is in a bit of a legal uproar when it comes to civil unions and marriages. Despite where the state’s legislature and governor wanted to be, a state judge ordered on September 27, 2013, same-sex couple could enter civil marriages. This decision was confirmed again by the same judge when the state tried to file a motion to argue the matter. As a result, the decision will become effective on Monday, October 21, 2013.

The state’s motion was no surprise; it was an attempt to temporarily stay the original order on civil marriages until the state supreme court had a chance to hear the matter. However, the trial judge wasn’t about to cooperate on a delay. She summed her logic to force the issue to reality as follows:

• The State of New Jersey was not going to suffer any immediate or irreversible harm by the order.
• The State has very little chance of success on an appeal of the order.
• On an equity basis, allowing a delay would not be fair to those who would benefit from the order. While the parties benefiting would be harmed, the state would not suffer any harm from an immediate implementation.

The plaintiffs who filed the case and are seen as subject to immediate impact by a delay includes six couples who are gay or lesbian as well as their children, including not being able to exercise federal marital benefits.

If there’s any consolation, the State of New Jersey is not the only jurisdiction dealing with the legal scuffle on same-sex marriage and civil unions. California clearly has been in the forefront with legalization and propositions fighting the matter both ways. Michigan’s state tax collectors took and opposite tack requiring same-sex spouses to file separate state tax returns. Ohio at the federal court level is disputing the issue of recognition of same-sex partners on death certificates. And Kentucky recently ruled same-sex spouses are required to testify in trials of their partners, unlike traditional spouses.

Ultimately, state supreme courts and state governments are going to have to define the law in an absence of a federal presence in the matter. However, the trend over time is clear; same-sex unions are coming. It’s a matter of how long the march will take by state.


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