NJ Court denies stay on marriage ruling; same-sex couples can marry starting Monday

Today, the New Jersey Supreme Court denied Gov. Christie's request to delay the start of marriages for same-sex couples in New Jersey. The NJ Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the marriage case, Garden State Equality et. al. v. Dow, et. al., in January 2014, but until a verdict is announced, same-sex couples will be permitted to marry in New Jersey, beginning on Monday, October 21, 2013. 

The decision comes one week after the Supreme Court in NJ announced it would hear the marriage case, which had been decided by Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobsen in September 2013 and appealed by the Christie administration. The appeal requested a delay in the start of marriages for same-sex couples, and after Judge Jacobsen denied the stay, the NJ Supreme Court did, too. 

This is a historic moment, and Monday will be a beautiful day in New Jersey – but marriage for gay and lesbian couples is still uncertain. The Court will hear arguments and issue a ruling in the case – but the earliest they will rule is January 2014. The freedom to marry can still be taken away from New Jersey families. The legislature is still the quickest path to secure marriage in the Garden State – and we need our legislators to act so that no one in New Jersey will ever again be denied the freedom to marry the person they love.

Marriage supporters, led by New Jersey United for Marriage, are rallying lawmakers in the state to take action to guarantee the freedom to marry in New Jersey. New Jersey United for Marriage is the campaign working to override Gov. Christie's veto in the legislature. Freedom to Marry is proud to serve as a leading and founding member of NJ United for Marriage. If you live in New Jersey, you can contact your legislator HERE and urge them to take action. 

Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson released the following statement on the news:

The state Supreme Court's rejection of Governor Christie's effort to string out the denial of the freedom to marry is joyous news to couples in New Jersey, who can now begin marrying at long last, just like their neighbors in New York and Delaware. And every day, every wedding, every protection made available will show that families are helped and no one hurt when gay couples share in the freedom to marry. While the Supreme Court considers a final ruling in the case over the next several months, the legislature can and should move swiftly to finish the job it began when it passed the freedom to marry bill in 2012. Lawmakers should get on the right side of history, overriding the governor's veto and making the freedom to marry the law of the land in New Jersey for once and for all.

Earlier this month, two new polls confirmed what we already know in New Jersey: That a super majority of NJ residents support the freedom to marry. Sixty-two percent of respondents in a Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll said they agreed with the Superior Court ruling. Fifty-nine percent of respondents in a Quinnipiac University poll said they want to see the NJ legislature override Gov. Christie's veto of the 2012 marriage bill.  

The ruling from September 27 cited the 2006 decision in Lewis, a case in the NJ Supreme Court that declared that the NJ legislature must extend equal protection to the relationships of same-sex couples, whether that was through marriage or some other form of family status. New Jersey, in response, created the lesser status of civil union, which provides many of the protections of marriage in the state but none of the respect or federal protections of marriage. Now that the central part of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act has been struck down and married couples - but not couples joined in civil union - are eligible for federal protections of marriage, Judge Jacobsen found that the civil union law is unconstitutional. 

Learn more about the lawsuit on our Marriage Litigation page, and check out New Jersey United for Marriage.