Legislature Leaves New Jersey Supreme Court Decision on Marriage Equality Unfulfilled: Lambda Legal Plans Court Action

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January 7, 2010

(Trenton, January 7, 2010) - Today Lambda Legal announced plans to go back to court to seek marriage equality after the New Jersey Senate failed to pass a marriage bill, effectively ending hope for passage this session.


"The requirement to ensure equality for same-sex couples, established by the New Jersey Supreme Court in its decision in our marriage lawsuit in 2006, has not been met," said Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director at Lambda Legal. "There is enormous, heartbreaking evidence that civil unions are not equal to marriage, and we will be going back to the courts in New Jersey to fight for equality. Too many families are at risk. We cannot wait any longer."


When the Lewis v. Harris case was decided in 2006 two other states, Connecticut and Vermont, had civil union laws. Since then both states have thrown over those laws as unequal - one by court action and one by legislative action - and same-sex couples now have the right to marry there. Same-sex couples can also marry in Massachusetts, Iowa, and New Hampshire. The City Council in the District of Columbia recently passed a marriage equality measure which was signed by the mayor and will likely go into effect in March.


"We applaud Garden State Equality and thousands of advocates for speaking up and working tirelessly for equality," added Cathcart. "We will continue to work with Garden State Equality until marriage equality becomes a reality in New Jersey."


Lambda Legal filed Lewis v. Harris in June 2002 on behalf of seven same-sex couples seeking the right to marry. The New Jersey Supreme Court issued its ruling on October 25, 2006, unanimously agreeing that it is unconstitutional to give same-sex couples lesser rights than different-sex couples, but leaving the remedy up to the legislature. In December 2008 the Civil Union Review Commission, appointed by the legislature, issued its report documenting how civil unions fall short of the court-mandated equality for same-sex couples. Just since Thanksgiving, Garden State Equality reports that nearly 4,500 people have come to Trenton to lobby legislators to vote in favor of marriage for same-sex couples.

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Contact Info

Contact: Lisa Hardaway; 212-809-8585 x 266; lhardaway@lambdalegal.org

Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.

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