Landmark brief for marriage equality filed in New Jersey

As posted on

"Today, Garden State Equality and five children’s and family organizations filed an amicus brief with the New Jersey Supreme Court which details the profound psychological harm that the New Jersey’s civil union law inflicts on children.   The brief, online at, is in support of Lambda Legal’s motion to the Supreme Court seeking marriage equality in light of the civil union law’s failure to fulfill the Court’s 2006 decision mandating equality for same-sex couples and their children.

"Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire changed their civil union laws to marriage after considering the negative impact that civil unions had on children compared to marriage equality.  Four state Supreme Courts which ruled for marriage equality, Massachusetts, Connecticut, California and Iowa, cited the harm inflicted by marriage inequality upon children. 

"New Jersey is the only remaining U.S. state with a civil union law.  Six jurisdictions, Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia, now allow same-sex couples to marry.

"Today’s brief, prepared by New Jersey’s largest law firm, McCarter & English, with the six organizations, brings to the Court a wide array of sources, including social science literature, the legislative record in New Jersey, and the expert views of psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers. 

"Among the gut-wrenching testimony in the brief is that of a 16 year-old gay high school sophomore from South Jersey, John Otto III, who appeared before the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee on December 7, 2009, and described his agony in being bullied because of his sexual orientation.  

“'It’s not easy walking down the hallway, having names and derogatory terms hurled at you like you are some kind of animal being brutally stoned to death,' young Otto told the committee.  'Faggot, queer, homo – they all hurt my self-esteem and made me feel worthless.  And what’s even worse is knowing that our State government also views me just like those bullies in school viewed me.  In New Jersey, I am a second-class citizen, someone who does not have equal rights, someone whom it is perfectly okay to treat differently according to the State government.'

“'I’ve endured more discrimination and hatred than anyone should ever have to deal with in a lifetime.  Marriage equality is extremely important to me, because one day I do hope to get married and make a life together with one very special person, just as my two wonderful parents have done.  And although many things can happen in the future, and I cannot say for sure that I will marry, I certainly do not want to have one road completely blocked from me:  the road to a happy and lifelong marriage.'

"Aside from describing the impact that marriage inequality has on LGBT children, the brief painstakingly describes how the civil union law inflicts psychological harm on the children of same-sex couples, whether the children are LGBT or straight, by making it difficult or impossible to explain their parents’ relationship – thereby making the children feel inferior and deeply insecure."

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