New Jersey's State Supreme Court says gay couples have same rights as heterosexual couples
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
The New Jersey Supreme Court has handed down its verdict in Lewis v. Harris. The details are: homosexual couples are entitled to the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples, but also said that totally legalizing gay marriages in the state will be up to the New Jersey Legislature who have 180 days to determine whether or not the state's constitution shall be rewritten to include gay marriages or civil unions.
"The issue is not about the transformation of the traditional definition of marriage, but about the unequal dispensation of benefits and privileges to one of two similarly situated classes of people," said the court.
"Although we cannot find that a fundamental right to same-sex marriage exists in this state, the unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our state Constitution," said one of the judges, Justice Barry T. Albin.
The decision passed in a ruling of 4 support and 3 non-support votes.
In 2004, the state ruled that domestic relationships are allowed and that gay couples get some of the benefits that come along with marriage including the right to inherit their partner's belongings if a will was not written and health insurance if one or the other works for the state.
If the state decides to allow same sex marriages, it would be the second state in the United States to completely legalize gay marriages. Massachusetts was the first and only state thus far to legalize gay marriages while some states such as Connecticut and Vermont have legalized civil unions.
- "N.J. high court opens door to gay marriage" — , October 25, 2006
- Associated Press. "NJ court grants rights to gay couples, stops short of approving gay marriage" — , October 25, 2006
- Barry T. Albin, writing for the court. "Judges Full Ruling (PDF)" — , October 25, 2006