Ending the Failed Experiment: A High Court Marriage Challenge to Civil Unions in New Jersey
Mar 25, 2010 at 10:18 am
As posted on The Huffington Post:
"In the wake of the pointed refusal by New Jersey's legislature to take action, Lambda Legal has returned to the New Jersey Supreme Court to win the freedom to marry. Lambda's attorneys filed a motion directly with the high court, asking it to bring New Jersey across the finish line to the equality that the constitution commands. The suit asks the Court to cure unconstitutional discrimination against lesbian and gay couples by finally ending their exclusion from marriage.
"Representing the same committed loving couples it fought for in the last round, Lambda Legal reactivated its New Jersey marriage case, Lewis v. Harris, filing what's known as a "motion in aid of litigants' rights." That motion seeks to compel the state of New Jersey to follow the law and obey a high court order now more than three years old.
"In October 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision in which every justice agreed that New Jersey's constitution does not permit the state to continue depriving loving, committed lesbian and gay couples from equal rights. The Court directed the legislature to make it right, and fast. After years in court, the deadline was 180 days to give lesbian and gay New Jerseyans equal rights. The clearest path to equality at that time was to stop discriminating against couples who applied for marriage licenses. It still is. But the legislature chose another path, a novel mechanism called civil union.
"It is now clear that civil union does not work, and falls far short of the equality commanded by the constitution and ordered by the Supreme Court.
"...The families who returned to the New Jersey Supreme Court this week, the plaintiffs in Lewis v. Harris, have walked a long and pain-laden road. Their pain began well before the case began in 2002. That painful history informed the Supreme Court's unanimous equality decision in 2006. And now it should power this final stage, as Lambda Legal asks the Court to turn equal rights on paper into equal rights in the real world. It is time for the Court to enforce its order and fulfill the constitutional command of equality, ending the denial of marriage in New Jersey. Same-sex couples in New Jersey shouldn't have to wait any longer."
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