Marriage Equality USA

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State of New Jersey
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Current Status

  • Civil marriage equality in effect at the state level since 2013. (Same-sex couples may legally marry.)

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

  • New Jersey was one of the first states to implement domestic partnerships, after California, in 2003.
  • In 2006, marriage equality advocates sued to obtain full marriage, as opposed to DP's, in the case, Lewis v. Harris. The judges struck down the domestic partnership arrangement, and split four to three to allow the legislature to pass civil unions instead of allowing same-sex marriage.
  • In December 2006, the New Jersey Legislature passed a bill providing for civil unions and recognizing civil unions from other states.
  • In 2012, the New Jersey Legislature passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, however, it was vetoed by Governor Chris Christie.
  • In September 2013, a judge of the Superior Court ruled in Garden State Equality v. Dow that as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court's June 2013 decision in Windsor v. United States, New Jersey's constitution requires the state to recognize same-sex marriages.

Legislation - Pending

A199 Enacts the "Marriage Equality and Religious Exemption Act."

Author/Sponsor: Assemblyman Gusciora, Assemblywoman Oliver, Assemblywoman Jasey, Assemblyman McKeon, Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle, Assemblyman O'Donnell, Assemblyman Wisniewski, and Assemblyman Eustace; co-sponsored by Assemblyman Diegan, Assemblywoman Lampitt, Assemblymen Singleton, Burzichelli and Assemblywoman Spencer
Date Introduced: 16 January 2014

Description:

  • This bill, titled the "Marriage Equality and Religious Exemption Act," would authorize same-sex marriage in the State. The bill defines "marriage" as the legally recognized union of two consenting persons in a committed relationship.
  • It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this bill to end the pernicious practice of discrimination in civil marriage in New Jersey.
  • It is the intent of the Legislature in enacting this bill to leave decisions about religious marriage to religions, and to uphold the free exercise of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and by Article I, paragraph 4 of the New Jersey Constitution. Therefore, this bill includes numerous, detailed, religious exemptions.
  • 16 January 2014, introduced and referred to Assembly Judiciary Committee
 
 

Legislation - Enacted

None.

Lawsuits - Pending

None.

Lawsuits - Resolved

Garden State Equality et al. v. Dow, et al.

Case #: MER-L-1729-11
Date Filed: 29 June 2011
Ruling Date: 27 September 2013

Description:

  • A federal lawsuit challenging the state's civil union law and seeking the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.
  • 27 September 2013, Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ruled in favor of marriage equality.
  • 18 October 2013, the NJ Supreme Court denied a request for a stay on the ruling.
  • 21 October 2013, same-sex couples began marrying.
  • 21 October 2013, the Christie administration dropped its appeal of the ruling.

Ballot Initiatives - Pending

See “ACR11” above under Pending Legislation – “The New Jersey Marriage Amendment”

Type & Purpose of Ballot Measure: Legislatively-referred constitutional amendment to provide that only the union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as marriage.
Date: Introduced in the NJ Assembly on16 January 2014
Proposed/Sponsored By: Rep. Alison McHose, Rep. Parker Space, Rep. Jay Webber, Rep. John DiMaio, Rep. David Rible, and Rep. Chris Brown

Summary:

  • Known as the “New Jersey Marriage Amendment,” this legislation may appear on the 4 November 2014 ballot in New Jersey as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure, upon voter approval, would define marriage as the union between one man and one woman. This would effectively end the currently legal same-sex marriages in New Jersey.

Ballot Initiatives - Passed

None.

Polls

  • 4 March 2014, results of a poll released by The Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling at Rutgers University showed that 64% of NJ voters polled favored same-sex marriage and 28% opposed it. Poll Details
  • 8 October 2013, the results of a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll showed that 62 percent of NJ voters polled agreed with a judge’s September 2013 decision that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry. Gov. Chris Christie (R) had appealed the decision and asked the New Jersey Supreme Court to stay it so that it would not take effect on 21 October 2013. The poll similarly found that 62 percent of voters believed the state should stop fighting against marriage equality, while only 29 percent supported Christie’s appeal. (The appeal was dropped on 21 October 2013.) Poll Details
  • 26 March 2013, results of a Quinnipiac University poll showed that 64% of New Jersey voters supported marriage for same-sex couples, and 30% said they did not support marriage for same-sex couples. Poll Details