Lambda Legal Opposes Motion to Delay Marriages in New Jersey Case
(Trenton, October 4, 2013) — Today, in response to the State's motion for a stay of last week's Superior Court decision in favor of marriage equality, Lambda Legal filed a brief on behalf of Garden State Equality, New Jersey's statewide LGBT advocacy organization, and six same-sex couples who seek the freedom to marry, asking the Court to deny the motion.
"The Attorney General is making a last-ditch effort to delay the freedom to marry in New Jersey. We are confident that our arguments to win are very strong, and we know that any delay in allowing same-sex couples to marry is too dangerous for our clients and their families," said Hayley Gorenberg, Deputy Legal Director of Lambda Legal . "We're going to do everything we can to make sure same-sex couples can begin making plans to marry starting on the date set by the court - October 21st."
"Families in New Jersey should not be asked to wait even one more day. It is intolerable that the State of New Jersey continues to stand in the way of equality," said Troy Stevenson, Executive Director of Garden State Equality. "I am actually offended that the State would attempt to claim the court is trying to override the intent of the democratically elected legislature, when that very body passed the freedom to marry through both chambers just last year."
"Last week, after eleven years of working with Lambda Legal, the Court finally ruled to let us get married, but the State of New Jersey continues to stand in the way," said Karen Nicholson-McFadden, plaintiff in the lawsuit along with her partner of over twenty years, Marcye Nicholson-McFadden, and their two children. "We are prepared to continue to fight, but we shouldn’t have to wait any longer."
Excerpt from the brief:
"Specifically, every day that same-sex couples cannot marry is a day they do not have--and risk permanently losing--vital benefits relating to their health, income, quality of life, personal and financial security, and family stability. In stark contrast, the State asserts no real hardships at all, let alone equities that compare."
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. Just last Friday, on September 27, 2013, the New Jersey Superior Court ruled that same-sex couples in New Jersey must be allowed to marry. Unless it is stayed pending appeal, the decision takes effect on October 21.
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.
Meet all the plaintiffs and their families: http://www.lambdalegal.org/nj-marriage
This case is Garden State Equality v. Dow
Hayley Gorenberg, Deputy Legal Director, is handling this case for Lambda Legal. She is joined by co-counsel Lawrence S. Lustberg of Gibbons, PC.