Thursday, October 26, 2006

New Jersey Supreme Court Orders Legislature To Give Marriage Rights to Same-Sex Couples

Matt Staver from the Liberty Counsel stopped by this morning to discuss the implications.

Newark, NJ – Today, New Jersey’s Supreme Court issued a decision ordering the Legislature to give all the rights of marriage to same-sex couples. The Court stopped one vote shy of granting same-sex couples the right to marry, instead ruling that all the benefits of marriage must be granted to same-sex couples. Three of the Justices dissented, arguing that same-sex couples should be given the right to marry in New Jersey. Liberty Counsel has been actively, aggressively and directly involved in protecting traditional marriage from attack in dozens of lawsuits around the country.

Today’s ruling recognized the backdrop of the New Jersey statutes which the majority stated evidenced a “legislative and judicial commitment to eradicating sexual orientation discrimination.” The Court held that, “denying rights and benefits to committed same-sex couples that are statutorily given to their heterosexual counterparts violates the equal protection guarantee of [New Jersey’s Constitution]. To comply with this constitutional mandate, the Legislature must either amend the marriage statutes to include same-sex couples or create a parallel statutory structure, which will provide for, on equal terms, the rights and benefits enjoyed and burdens and obligations borne by married couples.” The Court ordered the State Legislature to amend its statutes and stated, “The Legislature could simply amend the marriage statutes to include same-sex couples, or it could create a separate statutory structure, such as a civil union, as Connecticut and Vermont have done.” The Court then ordered the State Legislature to act within 180 days.

Erik Stanley, Chief Counsel for Liberty Counsel, stated: “New Jersey is not a social experimentation laboratory where the Supreme Court can play. The marital union of a man and a woman is of vital social importance because it uniquely fosters responsible procreation, contributes to the continuing well-being of men and women, to society, to children and to the state. Aggressive use of the courts to undermine marriage has backfired on the same-sex marriage movement. The people of America are not about to idly stand by and watch marriage go up in smoke. Marriage, including all of its rights and benefits, must be protected from judges who dress themselves in lab coats to play social scientists and experiment with the most fundamental institution of society. We must not rest until marriage is protected once and for all by passage of a federal marriage amendment.”



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