NJ couples file lawsuit demanding recognition of their marriages

By Katie Garcia, Freedom to Marry's Communications Intern 

On Wednesday, Garden State Equality, seven New Jersey same-sexcouples and their families filed a lawsuit against the state demanding thattheir relationships be recognized as marriage, not civil unions. This lawsuitis based well-documented evidence that civil unions are a “badge of inferiority”for same-sex couples.

Current state law in New Jersey allows same-sex couples toenter into civil unions and recognizes marriages that occur in other states. Thougha marriage bill is currently being considered by the state legislature, NewJersey Governor Chris Christie has said that he will veto any marriage billthat is presented to him. A similar bill failed in the state Senate in 2010.However, this lawsuit, filed by Lambda Legal, presents another option for thosein New Jersey asking for critical protections and safety net that only marriagecan provide.

Moreover, this lawsuit gives voice to seven of the over5,000 couples in civil unions who have suffered due to the inadequacies of thestate’s civil union law. In 2008, a state-appointed Civil Union ReviewCommission unanimously found that civil unions fell short of providing equalprotections for same-sex couples.

John Grant and Danny Weiss, one of the couples filing thissuit, found themselves vulnerable when John was hit by a car in New York andthe hospital John was taken struggled over who could make the medical decisionsbecause they did not recognize Danny and John’s legal relationship. In a videoproduced by Lambda Legal talk about how they struggled during this crisis becausetheir civil union status. 

“They were getting stuck on terminology,” says Danny. “Thatvery terminology—civil union—that was supposed to help us from such a crisis isexactly what was causing the problem.”

Freedom to Marry supports these brave couples as they maketheir case for the freedom to marry in court. As these couples make their casefor why marriage matters to them, the battle in New Jersey for the freedom tomarry is just beginning.

To learn more about what is going on in New Jersey and hearfrom the other couples in this suit, click here.