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3 Republican legislators challenge gay marriage effort at N.J. Supreme Court

rainbowflag121709Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund representing New Jersey legislators filed a motion to intervene Monday to defend against a recently filed motion in what seemed to be a long-ago-resolved lawsuit that seeks to force the Legislature to redefine marriage.

The Alliance Defense Fund say that a small group of activists dissatisfied with civil unions implemented by the Legislature in 2007 argue that they will not be satisfied with anything short of redefining marriage for everyone.

"There's more to marriage than just any two people in a committed relationship," said Alliance Defense Fund's Senior Legal Counsel Austin R. Nimocks. "At this time in history, we should be strengthening marriage, not tearing it down. Instead, activists are seeking to redefine marriage for all New Jersey citizens by resurrecting an already-resolved, three-year-old lawsuit with the goal of forcing legislators to redefine marriage against their will. This renewed attack utterly dispels the myth that civil unions will appease such activists. Instead, they seek to use them as a legal springboard to redefine marriage."

Alliance Defense Fund attorneys represent Senator Gerald Cardinale ( R ), Senator Anthony R. Bucco ( R ), and Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll ( R ) in their motion to intervene, filed with the New Jersey Supreme Court.

"After failing to achieve their goals in the Legislature, plaintiffs return to this court, again seeking a judicial solution to a legislative issue," states the ADF brief filed on behalf of the legislators. "It is that proposed remedy - the attempt to usurp legislative authority and compel legislative action - which gives rise to Proposed Intervenors' interests in this case."

The new motion in Lewis v. Harris, filed by attorneys with Lambda Legal, seeks to resurrect a case already decided by the New Jersey Supreme Court in October 2006. In that decision, the court gave the Legislature the option to "either amend the marriage statutes to include same-sex couples or enact a parallel statutory structure by another name, in which same-sex couples would not only enjoy the rights and benefits, but also bear the burdens and obligations of civil marriage."

In December 2006, legislators complied with the order by choosing the latter option and enacting the Civil Union Act, which became effective in February 2007.

Back on March 18, Lambda Legal returned to the New Jersey Supreme Court, filing a motion seeking marriage equality on behalf of the plaintiffs in the original Lewis v. Harris lawsuit.

"The New Jersey Supreme Court ordered equality for same-sex couples when it decided our marriage lawsuit in 2006, and the legislature has failed to meet that crystal-clear obligation," said Hayley Gorenberg, Deputy Legal Director at Lambda Legal. "Civil unions are a failed legislative experiment in providing equality in New Jersey-marriage equality is the only solution."

Lambda Legal, with pro bono co-counsel from the Gibbons firm, including partner Lawrence Lustberg, filed a Motion in Aid of Litigants' Rights arguing that the civil union remedy enacted by the legislature has not fulfilled the Constitution's guarantee of equality promised in the Court's 2006 ruling.

"Because the legislature ignored the extensive research and unanimous conclusion of its own Civil Union Review Commission and the overwhelming evidence presented in hours of legislative testimony, we must go back to court," said Gorenberg.

When the Lewis v. Harris case was decided, two other states, Connecticut and Vermont, had civil union laws. Since then both states have thrown over those laws as unequal — one by court action and one by legislative action — and same-sex couples now have the right to marry there. Same-sex couples can also marry in Massachusetts, Iowa, New Hampshire, the District of Columbia, and several foreign countries.

Lambda Legal filed Lewis v. Harris in June 2002 on behalf of seven same-sex couples seeking the right to marry. The New Jersey Supreme Court issued its ruling on October 25, 2006, unanimously agreeing that it is unconstitutional to give same-sex couples lesser rights than different-sex couples, but leaving the remedy to reach equality up to the legislature. In December 2006 the New Jersey Legislature hastily enacted a civil union law. In December 2008 the Civil Union Review Commission, appointed by the legislature, issued its report documenting how civil unions fall short of the court-mandated equality for same-sex couples. Following a hard -fought campaign led by Garden State Equality, the New Jersey Senate voted on and failed to pass a marriage equality law days before the legislative session ended this January.

— ANDY LAGOMARSINO, NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

 
Comments (7)
7 Thursday, 01 April 2010 14:29
Vincent Pinson
...to FreedomNow
6 Thursday, 01 April 2010 14:08
Vincent Pinson
1) Are you planning to have a fertility test as part of the marriage licence procedure?

*Nope -- that would be an invasion of privacy. Funny you bring that up since there is no need at all to adminster such a test to two women or two men, because there is no chance they will procreate together. You really don't see how your own snark actually affirms the proposition that a sexual union between a man and a woman is fundamentally different from any other relationship?
2) Would you like to remove children from single parent households?

*Of course not. However, how is it a good idea to enact public policy that purposely guarantees that more children will be deprived of their birthright of growing up with their own mom and dad? Redefining marriage will do that and children will suffer. Just because some children are brought up in unfortunate circumstances doesn't mean we should make it worse. Do you fix a flat by slashing the other tires?

3) I'm not clear on how anyone elses sex life has anything to do with you. It is quite possible that you engage in sex acts that I find disgusting.

*No one else's sex life has anything to do with me. People like you are the ones who hypocritically demand that the state stay out of your bedroom, but then demand the state stamp of approval for what you do there. Imposing a redefinition of marriage on the rest of us, demanding that the state legislate YOUR morality and using state power to make sure other affirm your sexual behavior goes far beyond just asking to be left alone. Rather it forces your agenda on everyine else, with no dissent allowed.
5 Thursday, 01 April 2010 07:37
FreedomNow
1) Are you planning to have a fertility test as part of the marriage licence procedure?
2) Would you like to remove children from single parent households?
3) I'm not clear on how anyone elses sex life has anything to do with you. It is quite possible that you engage in sex acts that I find disgusting.
4 Thursday, 01 April 2010 05:58
A Heterosexual Woman
I want you to take your lumpy pee stick and clumsily jam up my blood hole. There is nothing more beautiful or natural or Godly in all of the universe. It truly is a holy miracle.
3 Thursday, 01 April 2010 01:49
ChasR
Even if the gays win, their marriages will never be equal. Totally impossible. Gays cannot reproduce as a couple. If the do raise children, the kids will be deprived of having both a mom and a dad. Their sex life, if they are men, will be limited to the other guys rear end with all of that brown stuff, and the like. How can that be equal? I hope the NJ Supreme Court can see that.
2 Wednesday, 31 March 2010 20:17
Anthony86
I agree completely with Philip; the legislature chose not to act and that left gay and lesbian couples no other choice than to turn to the courts.

If New Jersey had more courageous legislators, instead of unethical cowards like these three republicans, this wouldn't be going through the courts at all.

As for the Alliance "Defense" Fund, they are nothing more than a group of right-wing lunatics who serve no real purpose for society other than to waste the courts' time and to stop at nothing to discriminate against others through the legal system.
1 Wednesday, 31 March 2010 19:52
Philip
This reporting is dishonest. When debating the marriage equality bill, the New Jersey Legislature openly admitted that the Civil Union law was flawed and did not provide the same benefits to gay and lesbian couples as those enjoyed by married heterosexual couples. The legislature then proceeded to vote against either correcting the law or providing gays and lesbians access to the existing institution of marriage. The legislature simply chose not to act at all.

Due to this refusal to correct existing laws, gays and lesbians are forced to return to the courts in order to enforce the existing decision. Gays and lesbians deserve the same rights as their fellow citizens. It is not their fault that the legislature has decided to deny them those rights.

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