New York/San Francisco • 18 October 2013 ― Marriage Equality USA heartily congratulates same-sex couples in New Jersey who will be able to start marrying this coming Monday! The marriages follow the unanimous ruling publicized earlier today when the New Jersey Supreme Court refused to issue a stay of Judge Mary Jacobson’s Superior Court ruling requiring the state to permit and recognize such marriages beginning October 21, 2013. At the same time, MEUSA’s National Equality Action Team (NEAT) continues to work to secure a legislative implementation of the freedom to marry in the state.
In its 20-page opinion explaining why it would not grant the stay prior to the state’s appeal of Judge Jacobson’s ruling which will be heard next January, the Supreme Court wrote that the State of New Jersey has neither demonstrated that its underlying legal claim is settled nor that it has a reasonable probability of success on the merits. “The Court wrote that ‘[t]he State has presented no explanation for how it is tangibly or actually harmed by allowing same-sex couples to marry,’” explained MEUSA Legal & Policy Director John Lewis. “Rather, the Court determined that same-sex couples and their families suffer ‘immediate and concrete violations of [the] right to equal protection under the law’ and an ‘ongoing injury that … cannot be repaired … at a later time.’”
The Court did note that marriages which take place between Monday and their ruling in the state’s appeal theoretically later could be nullified should it later find in favor of the state. While today’s strongly worded opinion bolsters our conviction that the Supreme Court will uphold the lower court’s ruling and let these marriages stand, the possibility of reversal illuminates why it is imperative for marriage equality supporters in New Jersey to continue calling and urging legislators to overturn Governor Christie’s veto of the marriage equality bill the legislature already passed. A favorable Supreme Court ruling, albeit likely, is not certain, and in any case is not expected before sometime in 2014; a legislative victory still could be accomplished first, as if the veto is to be overridden, this must be accomplished by the end of 2013.
“Today’s decision provides tremendous momentum at a key moment in our movement,” said MEUSA Executive Director Brian Silva. “Meanwhile, Marriage Equality USA and our project, the National Equality Action Team (NEAT), are working every day to make the freedom to marry a reality in New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois, and nationwide.
From Marriage Equality USA’s National Map page
Over 30% of Americans live in states with full, state-level equality, and 50% of Americans live in 22 states (or counties or cities) that recognize various forms of same- gender relationships:
15 with full marriage (CA, CT, DC, DE, IA, MA, MD, ME, MN, NH, NJ, NY, RI, VT, WA);
03 with civil union (CO, HI, IL);
04 with domestic partnership (NV, NM, OR, WI).
22 states (or counties or cities) that recognize various forms of same- gender relationships.
From Marriage Equality USA’s Current Status pages
Since 1993, every American state has taken some position on marriage equality. Each state allows — or bans — various forms of marriage via the state constitution and/or state laws. Some states have full marriage equality, some have restricted equality, and the rest ban all unions except one-man-one-woman couples. About 70 federal and state marriage-related lawsuits are underway nationwide (www.MarriageEquality.org/current-status).
In 2013, lawmakers, judges, and voters in most states, as well as federal judges and Congress, are deciding whether to allow — or ban — various levels of equality.