By Cherri Gregg
TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) — Lawyers in a New Jersey same-sex marriage case say yesterday’s US Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act (see related story) gives them the ammunition they need to ask the courts to legalize gay marriage in that state.
“The law of the State of New Jersey discriminates, and that’s what’s hurting the families,” says Hayley Gorenberg, an attorney with Lambda Legal, a group which represents six same-sex couples in a New Jersey Superior Court lawsuit that demands marriage equality in the state.
Gorenberg says the Supreme Court ruling changed the legal landscape.
“New Jersey’s denial of marriage is the only thing that stands between same-sex couples and their full array of federal rights,” she tells KYW Newsradio.
In 2006, the group sued and got the New Jersey Supreme Court to rule that the state’s constitution requires that same-sex couples be treated equal to other couples. The court let the legislature decide how to make that happen, and instead of expanding the definition of marriage, lawmakers created the parallel system of “civil unions.”
“Same-sex couples get equal rights under the law,” says Gorenberg, “The [Supreme Court] decision makes it clear equality can’t be provided in the New Jersey without giving marriage.”
She says that a statewide referendum on whether to allow gay marriage, as previously suggested by Governor Chris Christie, is not an option.
“Putting people’s core rights to a popular vote, especially when you’re talking about a minority people, is wrong,” she says.
Gorenberg says Lambda Legal will file papers in New Jersey Superior Court court next week.