Gay Primary Source

Monday, September 30, 2013

NJ Court Rules for Same-Sex Marriage

“... Every day that the State does not allow same-sex couples to marry, plaintiffs are being harmed, in violation of the clear directive of Lewis... Plaintiffs are ineligible for many federal benefits at this moment, and their right to equal protection under the New Jersey Constitution should not be delayed until some undeterminable future time. In the face of an injury of constitutional proportions, the court must act to ensure the continuing vitality of Lewis...

... Following the
Windsor decision of the United States Supreme Court and the subsequent implementation of that decision by several federal agencies, same-sex couples are only afforded the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex married couples if they are married. Since New Jersey currently denies marriage to same-sex couples, same-sex civil union partners in New Jersey are ineligible for many federal marital benefits. The parallel legal structures created by the New Jersey Legislature therefore no longer provide same-sex couples with equal access to the rights and benefits enjoyed by married heterosexual couples, violating the mandate of Lewis and the New Jersey Constitution's equal protection guarantee. Under these circumstances, the current inequality visited upon same-sex civil union couples offends the New Jersey Constitution, creates an incomplete set of rights that Lewis sought to prevent, and is not compatible with “a reasonable conception of basic human dignity.”... Any doctrine urging caution in constitutional adjudication is overcome by such a clear denial of equal treatment.

Because plaintiffs, and all same-sex couples in New Jersey, cannot access many federal marital benefits as partners in civil unions, this court holds that New Jersey's denial of marriage to same-sex couples now violates Article 1, Paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution as interpreted by the New Jersey Supreme Court in Lewis v. Harris. The equality demanded by Lewis v. Harris now requires that same-sex couples in New Jersey be allowed to marry. As a result, the court will grant plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment and will order the State to permit any and all same-sex couples, who otherwise satisfy the requirements for civil marriage, to marry in New Jersey...

The ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits is currently harming same-sex couples in New Jersey in a wide range of contexts: civil union partners who are federal employees living in New Jersey are ineligible for marital rights with regard to the federal pension system, all civil union partners who are employees working for businesses to which the Family and Medical Leave Act applies may not rely on its statutory protections for spouses, and civil union couples may not access the federal tax benefits that married couples enjoy. And if the trend of federal agencies deeming civil union partners ineligible for benefits continues, plaintiffs will suffer even more, while their opposite-sex New Jersey counterparts continue to receive federal marital benefits for no reason other than the label places upon their relationships by the State. This unequal treatment requires that New Jersey extend civil marriage to same-sex couples to satisfy the equal protection guarantees of the New Jersey Constitution as interpreted by the New Jersey Supreme Court in Lewis. Same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey Constitution...

… 2. Effective October 21, 2013, Defendants, or such officials of the State of New Jersey as are empowered to do so, shall permit any and all same-sex couples, who otherwise satisfy the requirements to enter into a civil marriage, to marry in New Jersey.”

Judge Mary C. Jacobson, Superior Court of New Jersey, Mercer County, September 27, 2013. Decision on Motion for Summary Judgment, and Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment and Entering Final Judgment in Favor of Plaintiffs.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hawaii Gov Forwards Marriage Bill

"We are doing our due diligence to remain open, transparent and accessible on this important issue of equality. Over the coming days, I along with the Lt. Governor, Attorney General and staff will be available to legislative caucuses. Next week, it is my hope to meet with House and Senate leadership to discuss the possibility of a special session.”

Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie provided state legislators and news media a marriage bill drafted by the state Attorney General, August 28, 2013. The bill is based on Senate Bill 1369, introduced in the 2013 regular session, and was drafted in collaboration with legislators, staff and stakeholders.

"This Act shall be known as the Hawaii Marriage Equality Act of 2013. The purpose of this Act is to recognize marriages between individuals of the same sex in the State of Hawaii. The legislature acknowledges the recent decision of the United States Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor, 133 S.Ct. 2675(2013), which held that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, Public Law 104-199, unlawfully discriminated against married same-sex couples by prohibiting the federal government from recognizing those marriages and by denying federal benefits and protections to those couples. This legislature has already extended to same-sex couples the right to enter into civil unions that provide the same rights, benefits, protections, and responsibilities under state law as afforded to opposite-sex couples who marry. However, these civil unions are not recognized by federal law and will not receive equal treatment to a marriage under federal law. Therefore, it is the intent of the legislature to ensure that same-sex couples are able to take full advantage of federal benefits and protections granted to married opposite- sex couples by allowing same-sex couples to marry under the laws of this State. It is the intent of the legislature that marriages solemnized in accordance with this Act be equal in all respects to the marriages of opposite-sex couples under the laws of this State. It is the intent of the legislature that there be no legal distinction between same-sex married couples and opposite-sex married couples with respect to marriage under the laws of this State. Thus, the legislature intends that all provisions of law regarding marriage be applied equally to same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples, regardless of whether this Act does or does not amend any particular provision of law..."

Click here to read the entire proposed bill