Same-Sex Marriage Now Legal in NJ

SSMarriageGov. Chris Christie has stopped his lawsuit to prevent same-sex couples from being married in the state of NJ. Same-sex couples can begin getting married starting Monday, Oct. 21 according to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Christie's attempted to prevent same-sex marriages from taking place until the appeal is settled in January. Following the announcement from the NJ Supreme Court, Christie stopped his lawsuit.

According to politico.com's statement from Christie's office, "Although the Governor strongly disagrees with the Court substituting its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches or a vote of the people, the Court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey Constitution and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law. The Governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his Administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court."

The New Jersey State Legislature had voted to allow same-sex marriages in 2012 but the Governor had vetoed the bill saying that he believes the issue should be left up to the voters via referendum Nov. 2013. Same-sex marriage is currently legal in 13 states including: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington as well as the District of Columbia.

The ruling that was appealed was Garden State Equality v. Dow, where Superior Court judge Mary Jacobson, ruled that the state of New Jersey must begin officiating same-sex marriages starting Monday.

In her opinion, Jacobson said, "Same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in order to obtain equal protection of the law under the New Jersey Constitution."

Prior to Jacobson's ruling, New Jersey same-sex couples could only obtain a civil union. Marriages between a man and woman are recognized by the state and federal government. According to the federal government, heterosexual married couples have 1,138 rights including social security benefits, workers' compensation and the right to visit sick or injured loved ones and have a say in life and death situations.

Another issue is that if a same-sex couple that has a civil union moves to a state that does not recognize this union, they do not receive the benefits they are guaranteed in another state.

According to USAToday, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora of NJ Legislative District 15 is openly gay, said, "Equality has won out once again and I thank the Supreme Court for ruling on the side of justice."

Dr. Rebecca Sanford, associate professor of communication, is pleased with the court's ruling and the Governor's decision not to continue his appeal.

"For my part, I was delighted to learn that Gov. Christie withdrew his appeal. Marriage offers both advantages and responsibilities recognized by law and I believe adults in relationship with one another should make decisions as to their marriage partners should or should not be, not state or federal law."

Sanford continued, "Same-sex couples afforded the legal recognition that other couples have long taken for granted would have far fewer hoops to jump through in areas of finances, housing, employee benefits, and child custody, to name a few. Such recognition strengthens family units which, in turn, benefits society."

Christie has been considering a presidential run in 2016 as the Republican nominee. He has been asked the question multiple times and said he is considering all options. According to an NJ.com poll, 77 percent of people believe that will run in 2016 while 18 percent believe he will not.

James Dalton, junior math major agreed. "I would say it's more ignorant than homophobic. The real reason Christie, is playing the anti-gay marriage card is probably to appeal to NJ Republican base. He is on the radar as 2016 presidential candidate," said Dalton.

Professor Gregory Bordelon, lecturer of political science and sociology, Christie will have to play the situation carefully if he has national ambitions.

"He's leading by such a distance in the polls for gubernatorial re-election, it seems to be in his favor to let this play out in time and ignore it to the extent he can. Maintaining a passive role in this debate and possibly letting marriage equality come to New Jersey via the courts is a win-win for him, politically," said Bordelon.

Bordelon continued, "As to 2016, the issue will be moot by then. With the robust arguments given by Justice Kennedy in the majority opinion in United States v. Windsor in June, there is little doubt that marriage will be found to be a fundamental right and marriage equality the law of the land for the states by the time Christie directly positions a presidential campaign."

Michael Rosas, senior communication major, believes Christie is doing this to please his opponents on the left. "I think Christie's strategy of letting the people decide will let him tell liberals that he was governor that allowed same sex marriage and to tell conservatives that he took the right legal action to stop same-sex marriage, but in the end, the issue was out of his hands," said Rosas.

Rosas continued, "I strongly disagree that civil rights should be 'voted' on by the people, even if the outcome is favorable towards progress. I see this move by Christie as an example of a lack of leadership and I'm extremely happy with the courts' decisions."

Senate-elect and Mayor of Newark Cory Booker performed the first same-sex marriage in the state at 12:01 am on Oct. 21. According to a nj.com article, Booker said prior to the marriage ceremony, "Tonight we're going to be marrying people in Newark, I know they're going to be doing it here in Jersey City," he said. "That alone is a testimony that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice."

Booker said at midnight, "It is officially past midnight, marriage is now equal in New Jersey."

IMAGE TAKEN from nj1015.com