Lambda Legal announced plans to seek marriage equality in court following the 20-14 rejection of the marriage equality bill by the state senate.
"The requirement to ensure equality for same-sex couples, established by
the New Jersey Supreme Court in its decision in our marriage lawsuit in
2006, has not been met," said Kevin Cathcart, Executive Director at Lambda
Legal. "There is enormous, heartbreaking evidence that civil unions are
not equal to marriage, and we will be going back to the courts in New
Jersey to fight for equality. Too many families are at risk. We cannot
wait any longer."
When the Lewis v. Harris case was decided in 2006 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, and New
Hampshire. The City Council in the District of Columbia recently passed a
marriage equality measure which was signed by the mayor and will likely go
into effect in March.
"We applaud Garden State Equality and thousands of advocates for speaking
up and working tirelessly for equality," added Cathcart.
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 up to the legislature. 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. Just since Thanksgiving, Garden State
Equality reports that nearly 4,500 people have come to Trenton to lobby
legislators to vote in favor of marriage for same-sex couples.