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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 11 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 41
Christie loses appeal of equality ruling - NJ judge won't delay same-sex marriages, set to begin Oct. 21
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Christie loses appeal of equality ruling - NJ judge won't delay same-sex marriages, set to begin Oct. 21

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The New Jersey judge who ruled in favor of marriage equality on September 28 has now denied a request from Gov. Chris Christie to stay the ruling pending an appeals hearing.

'Granting a stay would simply allow the state to continue to violate the equal protection rights of New Jersey same-sex couples, which can hardly be considered a public interest,' Judge Mary Jacobson wrote in a ruling issued October 10.

According to Jacobson, offering Gay and Lesbian couples the opportunity to enter into a civil marriage would not 'cause the State to suffer irreparable harm.'

She added that delaying the issuance of marriage licenses would, however, hurt same-sex couples by making them 'suffer many hardships of constitutional magnitude.'

'In making this argument [for a stay],' Jacobson wrote, '... the State ignores the largely abstract nature of the harm it alleges, which pales in comparison to the concrete harm caused to Plaintiffs by their current ineligibility for many federal marital benefits, and the significant litigation burden they would have to shoulder to challenge federal denial of marital benefits to civil union couples.'

The judge also said the state would most likely lose its appeal of her original decision that New Jersey's civil unions were discriminatory and not equal to civil marriage. In her September 28 decision, Jacobson set October 21 as the date for same-sex marriages to begin in New Jersey.

FURTHER APPEALS LIKELY
While Christie is almost certain to appeal Jacobson's denial of a stay, her ruling moves New Jersey a step closer to actual marriage equality.

'Momentum is with us,' said Troy Stevenson, executive director of Garden State Equality, on Thursday. 'All couples in New Jersey need the dignity of marriage, and they need it now. We look forward to seeing many of them, who have been denied that dignity for too long, marry in the coming weeks.'

'This is wonderful news!' said Hayley Gorenberg, deputy legal director of Lambda Legal. 'The court's decision once again confirms that the hardships of not being able to marry are real and immediate. Every day does count. Allowing same-sex couples to marry helps many New Jersey families and hurts no one else.'

MOST SAY 'MOVE ON'
On the same day that Jacobson denied Christie's request for a stay, a Quinnipiac poll revealed that a large majority of New Jersey's likely voters don't want their governor to appeal the ruling.

Sixty-one percent of respondents said Christie should drop the appeal, compared to only 32% who wanted him to pursue it. Fifty-nine percent also wanted the state legislature to override Christie's veto of a 2012 marriage equality bill. Only 33% wanted lawmakers to sustain the governor's veto.

Democratic leaders say they are close to assembling the two-thirds majority necessary to override the veto. They have until January 2014 to do so.

'New Jersey likely voters support same-sex marriage any way they can get it. By almost 2-1, including a lot of Republicans, they want Gov. Christie to drop his appeal of a judge's ruling so same-sex couples can marry in the Garden State,' said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

'And if Christie won't get out of the way, voters say, the State Legislature should push him aside by overriding his veto of legislation which passed both houses in February 2012.'

Christie, who is running for re-election this fall, seems to have escaped from the marriage controversy with his popularity undimmed, however. The same Quinnipiac poll put him 29 points ahead of his Democratic challenger, Barbara Buono.

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