NJ Supreme Court rules same-sex couples can marry beginning Monday
Gov. Chris Christie had asked the state Supreme Court to freeze same-sex marriages until issued a final ruling next year.
Same-sex marriages will begin Monday in New Jersey after the state
Supreme Court ruled Friday that the state must begin granting same-sex
marriage licenses, a rebuff to Gov. Chris Christie.
Republican, favors civil unions, which New Jersey has offered since
2007, but he opposes same-sex marriage. The state had tried to delay the
granting of marriage licenses pending an appeal of a ruling last month
that found that it must allow same-sex couples to marry, saying not
doing so deprived them of rights the U.S. Supreme Court guaranteed in
Christie had asked the New Jersey Supreme Court to freeze a state judge's ruling legalizing same-sex marriage
until it heard the case in January and made a final decision, but the
court, in a unanimous ruling, found that the state had "not shown a
reasonable probability it will succeed on the merits."
In a statement Friday afternoon, Christie's office said that while he
disagrees with the ruling, "the Supreme Court has made its
determination" and directed the state Health Department to comply.
New Jersey will become the 14th state to recognize same-sex marriage, in addition to the District of Columbia.
long wait in New Jersey is finally over — the door is open for love,
commitment and equality under the law! This is a huge victory for New
Jersey's same-sex couples and their families," Hayley Gorenberg, deputy
legal director of Lambda Legal, which filed a brief on behalf of six
same-sex couples who sought the right to marry, said in a statement.
County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ruled Sept. 27 in Trenton in
favor of sames-sex couples who had challenged the civil union law,
saying it restricted federal benefits given to heterosexual married
With its unanimous ruling among all seven judges, the Supreme
Court hinted Friday that it would strike down the ban when it takes up
the issue in January.
"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 court
ruled. "The harm to them is real, not abstract or speculative."
A few New Jersey towns had already started accepting applications for marriage licenses in anticipation of the ruling, NBC New York reported.
state Supreme Court first ruled in 2006 that same-sex couples were
entitled to the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples get,
which led the Legislature to create civil unions in 2007.
same-sex couples who challenged the civil union law earlier this year
argued that the U.S. Supreme Court changed federal and state laws when
it stuck down the Defense of Marriage Act, saying the federal government
must recognize same-sex marriages in the states where they are legal.
M. Alex Johnson of NBC News, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.