Will the New Jersey Marriage Equality Bill Become a Law in 2014?
- January 9, 2014
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The year 2013 brought many social changes, one of the most important being the legalization of same-sex marriage through a New Jersey Superior Court judicial ruling, but will the New Jersey Marriage Equality Bill became a law in 2014? In October of 2013, a New Jersey Superior Court judge, the Honorable Mary C. Jacobson, J.S.C., ruled in Garden State Equality v. Dow that prohibiting same-sex marriages in New Jersey violated homosexual individuals’ equal protection under both the United States Constitution and the New Jersey State Constitution. Governor Chris Christie withdrew his challenge after the New Jersey Supreme Court refused to grant a stay and indicated that it would uphold the lower court’s ruling. Same-sex marriages have been legally conducted in NJ since the end of October 2013, but the Marriage Equality Bill still has not been codified into law. Lawmakers have been unable to agree on all of the issues that are involved with the implementation of marriage equality and therefore the bill that would codify marriage equality into law has not been passed. Please note that this does not mean that gay marriages are not legal in NJ because they are, but the Marriage Equality Bill has not been passed into law. One of the main areas of dissention among lawmakers has been the issue of, if and how, to grant exemptions for churches and the clergy who refuse to perform lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgender marriage ceremonies due to their religious beliefs and tenets. Under the current, proposed Marriage Equality Bill, there is an exemption for religious groups to allow them to deny same-sex marriages based upon the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The bill also specifies that religious groups cannot be forced to provide space, services, or privileges related to marriage if LGBT marriage violates their religious beliefs. The legal issues that are involved are very complex and lawmakers will continue to debate the substance and structure of the Marriage Equality Bill in the ensuing weeks and months. At this time, it is difficult to predict whether or not the Marriage Equality Bill will become New Jersey law in 2014. If you are considering entering into a same-sex marriage or if you are contemplating obtaining a same-sex divorce it is critical that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney before moving forward. For more information about same-sex marriage,divorce, same-sex relationship dissolution, civil union dissolution or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney.