New Jersey Superior Court Hears Argument in Major Post-DOMA Courtroom Showdown on Marriage

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August 15, 2013

Today, in one of the first major courtroom tests since the demise of Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Lambda Legal presented oral argument on a motion for summary judgment before the New Jersey Superior Court in a case seeking marriage equality on behalf of Garden State Equality, New Jersey's statewide LGBT advocacy organization, and six same-sex couples who seek the freedom to marry, as well as their children.

"We're in court today because New Jersey continues to shirk responsibility for denying the state's same-sex couples the freedom to marry. Now that DOMA is gone, New Jersey is, as a matter of law, in direct violation of the New Jersey Supreme Court order we won in 2006 that requires equality for same-sex couples, and it's in violation of the Equal Protection clause of the federal Constitution," said Hayley Gorenberg, Lambda Legal Deputy Legal Director. "The state's discrimination is all that bars same-sex couples from the full array of federal protections for their families. New Jersey can fix this – and it should. The buck stops right here."

"Garden State Equality was proud to help initiate this historic case," said Troy Stevenson, Executive Director of Garden State Equality. "We have long been leading the charge for equality, and we will continue to pursue every available avenue to make sure New Jersey's same-sex couples enjoy the dignity of marriage as quickly as possible."

"Eleven years ago, when we asked Lambda Legal to work on our behalf, we were prepared for a long, hard road for our family and for other same-sex couples and their kids," said Cindy Meneghin, plaintiff in the lawsuit along with her high school sweetheart, Maureen Kilian, and their two children. "The U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down DOMA was historic for the nation but out of reach for us here in New Jersey. We won't give up until we have the freedom to marry and the opportunity to share that security and joy with our family."

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 case, arguing that by barring marriage, the state of New Jersey denies same-sex couples the full range of federal benefits, rights, and protections available after the Windsor decision. 

In today's argument, Lambda Legal addressed how this denial explicitly conflicts with the New Jersey Supreme Court ruling in 2006 that says that same-sex couples should have the same rights and benefits as their different-sex counterparts. The judge hearing the case indicated she would not rule before September.

Meet the plaintiffs and their families.

Read the press release.