Saturday, September 28, 2013
A court in New Jersey is the first to overrule a state's refusal to legalize same -sex marriage. New Jersey judge recently ruled that the state must permit same-sex couples to wed because forbidding it would deprive them of their constitutional rights set out by the U.S. Supreme Court in June. Experts say New Jersey was the place to challenge this particular issue because the highest court in New Jersey decided that same-sex couples should have the same rights and benefits of marriage in Lewis v. Harris. However, in that case the court did not expressly state same-sex couples had a fundamental right to marry. Instead, the court left it up to the legislature to define how to apply equal protection.
Now, judge Mary C. Jacobson has stated that the federal decision meant that New Jersey law had to change and must permit same-sex couples to get married. Jacobson “Under these circumstances, the current inequality visited upon same-sex civil union couples offends the New Jersey Constitution, creates an incomplete set of rights that Lewis sought to prevent, and is not compatible with ‘a reasonable conception of basic human dignity.’ ” Gay rights advocates are thrilled with the ruling and are anticipating that the decision will help the argument that marriage is a fundamental right for gay couples.
See Kate Zernike and Marc Santora Judge Orders New Jersey to Allow Gay Marriage, New York Times, Sept. 27, 2013.