The NJ Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage after Gov. Chris Christie and a lower New Jersey court blocked imposing the unions.
New Jersey is the latest state to have a court either impose same-sex marriage or overturn bans that passed by popular referendum. Most notable was California’s Prop 8, which was heard by the Supreme Court last session. The court deferred to the ruling of the California Supreme Court, which dismantled the ban on same-sex marriage that twice passed on referendum.
A State Superior Court judge had ruled last month that the state had to allow same-sex marriage to comply with two decisions: the United States Supreme Court ruling in June that same-sex married couples have the same rights to federal benefits as heterosexual married couples, and a 2006 ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court that same-sex couples were entitled to all of the rights and benefits of marriage.
The Superior Court judge, Mary C. Jacobson, ruled that the marriages could begin as early as this Monday.
Governor Christie quickly appealed the decision, and the state’s Supreme Court has agreed to hear their appeal, with oral arguments scheduled for early January. But on Friday, the court unanimously denied the Christie administration’s request for a stay on marriages until the appeal was settled.
The decision to hear Gov. Christie’s appeal is a charade, because the justices already telegraphed their predetermined bias by stating that they did not think the appeal had a “reasonable” chance of success.
“The state has advanced a number of arguments, but none of them overcome this reality: same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today,” the Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote in his opinion. “The harm to them is real, not abstract or speculative.”
Mayors in Jersey City, Newark — consequently, the new Senator-elect — and Asbury Park, had said they wanted to be the first to marry same-sex couples, and gay rights groups had already been aiding couples who wish to file for marriage licenses. They have also planned ceremonies that will begin as soon as the clock strikes 12:01 a.m. on Monday.
Gay rights groups are also pushing the State Legislature to overturn Mr. Christie’s veto of a 2012 bill that would have allowed gay marriage. Mr. Christie has said he believes that marriage is between a man and a woman, and he has suggested that the issue should be put before voters in a referendum, but as usual, activist liberal justices will write the law for us.