In Brief: Marriage Vows

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August 4, 2011

On July 24, the whole world watched as New York celebrated marriage equality. Overnight, the number of people living in a jurisdiction in the United States that allows same-sex couples to marry had doubled. Among the first to tie the knot were three plaintiff couples in Lambda Legal's New York marriage lawsuit, Hernandez v. Robles: Daniel Hernandez and Nevin Cohen, Douglas Robinson and Michael Elsasser, and Jo-Ann Shain and Mary Jo Kennedy. It was a historic day and a momentous occasion for all of us—one that we are committed to recreating across the Hudson River, in New Jersey.

These plaintiffs in our 2004 lawsuit in New York stood up for equality and kept fighting for the right to get married. They worked hard, through litigation and legislative advocacy, to reach this day. We salute their courage and congratulate them on their victory and their weddings.

Like these brave couples, Lambda Legal never gave up fighting in New York for greater recognition of our relationships and families—and we are not giving up in New Jersey either.

Lambda Legal is suing the state of New Jersey on behalf of seven same-sex couples and their children, as well as the advocacy organization Garden State Equality. I encourage you to watch these short videos and get to know our plaintiff families, hear their stories, and send them a note of support for their fight.

As the couples in our case recount from personal experience—from harrowing hospital incidents to dropped health coverage—New Jersey's civil union system has been a tragic failure. It relegates same-sex couples to an inferior status, in a clear violation of both the state and federal constitutions. There is only one solution: New Jersey must allow same-sex couples to marry.