A decision handed down on Friday by the New Jersey Supreme Court to uphold a lower court ruling that would allow homosexuals to marry beginning today has opened the door for same-sex marriage in that state.
The Bergen County Record is reporting that the state Supreme Court upheld a decision by a Superior Court judge who ruled last week that the Christie administration failed to make a compelling argument to block the lower court’s decision.
“The state has advanced a number of arguments, but none of them overcome this reality: Same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today. . . . The harm to them is real, not abstract or speculative,” the court said in its 7-0 ruling.
A more definitive ruling on the issue of same-sex marriage in the state is expected next year; however, Friday’s decision will allow gay couples to marry until the issue is finally decided. Most court watchers expect the court to ultimately rule in favor of the unions.
“The long wait in New Jersey is finally over — the door is open for love, commitment and equality under the law,” said Hayley Gorenberg, deputy legal director of Lambda Legal, a gay-rights group and one of the plaintiffs in the case.
Opponents of same-sex marriage see nothing worthy of celebration.
“By allowing same-sex marriage licenses to go forward before the legal question is even argued, the New Jersey Supreme Court has dropped all pretense of impartiality,” said Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council.
Calling it a “sad day for the rule of law”, he called the latest ruling “a breach of public confidence that I’m not sure they will be able to repair.”
The fight for same-sex marriage in New Jersey has been intensifying in recent years, especially after Governor Christie vetoed a bill legalizing the unions by the state Legislature in 2012. Thus far, the legislature has been unable to override the veto.
The Governor insists that the people should be allowed to vote on the issue rather than have this drastic change in the social structure of society imposed upon them by lawmakers.
Gay activists are still pushing for an override, saying it’s the only way to ensure that same-sex marriage becomes legal in the state. An override must occur before the current legislative session ends in January or the process must begin all over again.
“The fact remains that the only way to ensure marriage equality in New Jersey right now is for the Legislature to act,” New Jersey United for Marriage said in a statement. “Your lawmakers need to know that you want them to resolve this issue and guarantee the freedom to marry once and for all.”
Even though the people have not yet spoken on the issue, the governor has instructed all agencies involved to cooperate with the ruling and issue marriage licenses to all same-sex couples who request them.