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Same-Sex Marriage Debate in New Jersey Rages On

Same-Sex Marriage Debate in New Jersey Rages On

The debate on the same-sex marriage continues to rage on in the state of New Jersey in lieu of recent developments in the New Jersey judicial system. Last year, the New Jersey State Legislature passed a Marriage Equality law that would have allowed same-sex couples to marry in the states, but at that time, Governor Chris Christie vetoed the bill and temporarily ended the debate. On Friday September 27, 2013, New Jersey Superior Court judge Mary Jacobson ruled that same-sex couples in New Jersey must be allowed to get married, beginning on October 21, 2013. According to Judge Jacobson, gay and lesbian couples are being denied equal rights under the law and therefore must be allowed the right to marry just like heterosexual couples. If the state were to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples on October 21st, they would have all of the same state and federal benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy. Many marriage equality supporters from around the state joined together in celebration of Judge Jacobson’s ruling, but does her ruling truly end the debate? The answer is, no. Governor Christie has stated that he will appeal Judge Jacobson’s decision. Typically, the Appellate Division would first have to hear a challenged case, but in this instance state lawmakers and the governor have asked the New Jersey Supreme Court to consider the matter, circumventing the Appellate Division. On October 2, 2013, Governor Christie asked the judiciary to delay the enforcement of Judge Jacobson’s order until the appeal can be decided by the Supreme Court. Judge Jacobson’s ruling is the first of its kind since the United States Supreme Court released its ruling that the federal government cannot deny federal benefits to married same-sex couples. Judge Jacobson based her opinion in part on that United States Supreme Court decision. It is still too early to predict how Judge Jacobson’s ruling will impact marriage equality in the state of New Jersey. Ultimately, this latest development proves that the debate over same-sex marriage in this state is still a hot topic and is far from over. With the legislature, the judiciary, and the governor all weighing in heavily on the debate over the past few years, the only certainty with regard to issues of same-sex marriage in New Jersey is that people throughout the state feel very passionately about the issue. Whether the legal status of same-sex marriage changes soon or not, has yet to be decided. If you are seeking to enter into or dissolve a civil union, there are ways to protect yourself and your partner under the existing laws by entering into contractual agreements where the law falls short of offering you protections offered to heterosexual married couples. For those in the LBGT community who are in long-term relationships and cohabitating, it is important to consult with experienced legal counsel regarding the steps you should take to protect your present and future interests under NJ Law. For more information on same-sex civil union, dissolution, divorce, custody, visitation, child support or other family law matters in New Jersey visit www.NJCivilUnionLaw.com and HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney.

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