Big gay marriage news out of New Jersey, where the state Supreme Court has ordered marriages of gay couples to begin on Monday.
New Jersey will become the 14th US state to legalize gay weddings. More from NBC:
The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that the state must begin granting same-sex marriage licenses on Monday, a rebuff to Gov. Chris Christie.
Christie, a Republican, favors civil unions, which New Jersey has offered since 2007, but opposes gay marriage. The state had tried to delay the granting of gay marriage licenses pending an appeal of a ruling last month that found the state must allow same-sex couples to marry, saying that not doing so deprives them of rights that were guaranteed by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.
Here’s some easy-to-digest background from Lambda Legal (the gay ACLU, as we call it here at AMERICAblog) that concisely explains what’s going on:
In 2002, Lambda Legal filed a historic case, Lewis v. Harris, seeking marriage equality on behalf of seven New Jersey couples. The case reached the New Jersey Supreme Court in 2006. The high court ruled unanimously that same-sex couples must be provided all the benefits and responsibilities of marriage, although it declined at that time to mandate that marriage was specifically required, and gave the state legislature 180 days to provide equality. The legislature hastily passed a civil union law in December 2006, and began issuing civil union licenses to lesbian and gay couples in February 2007. In both the 2002 Lewis case as well as the current case, Garden State Equality. v. Dow, the Gibbons Firm has been a strong pro bono partner with Lambda Legal, contributing to the fight for the freedom to marry in New Jersey.
In June 2011, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit seeking the freedom to marry, arguing that barring same-sex couples from marriage and relegating them to civil union violates both the New Jersey Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment of the federal Constitution. This June, the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of DOMA, and Lambda Legal filed a motion for summary judgment in the New Jersey case, arguing that by barring marriage, the state of New Jersey now denies same-sex couples the full range of federal benefits, rights, and protections available after the Windsor decision. On September 27, 2013, the New Jersey Superior Court ruled that same-sex couples in New Jersey must be allowed to marry and set an effective date of October 21.
The case has been appealed by the state and will be heard by the New Jersey Supreme Court on January 6 or 7, 2014. Because there is no stay on the decision, same-sex couples have the freedom to marry beginning on Monday.
It’s the same legal rationale as has been expressed before: Separate is never equal. I have no doubt that the federal-level overturn of DOMA also played a part, in that NJ’s civil unions did not rise to the level of federal recognition — nor does anything else that isn’t labeled ‘marriage.
Poor Republican Governor, and potential 2016 presidential candidate, Chris Christie must be fuming. Time and time again, he’s gone the “let the majority decide if a minority can have civil right” route on gay marriage. Christie has said, through a spokesman, that he will abide by the court’s ruling, even though he said the other day that if he had a gay child, he would tell the child that marriage is between a man and a woman. Nice dad.
Fortunately, incoming Democratic Senator Cory Booker is there to restore our faith in New Jersey politicians. Booker, who is Mayor of Newark, says he’ll start conducting marriage ceremonies for gay couples at 12:01am this coming Monday morning.
Here’s the court’s opinion refusing to stay the marriages: