Lesniak Bill Would Give NJ Legal Status To Out-Of-State Same-Sex Marriages

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State Sen. Ray Lesniak

State Sen. Ray Lesniak

TRENTON – Same sex couples married in states and countries where marriage equality is recognized by law would have their marriages officially acknowledged in New Jersey, under terms of legislation introduced in the Senate on Thursday.

Sponsored by Senator Raymond Lesniak, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, three of the leading advocates for marriage equality in New Jersey, the bill was introduced in the wake of the landmark decision overturning the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

“Marriage equality will be law in New Jersey,” said Lesniak. “It’s not a question of ‘if,’ only a matter of ‘when’. Until that day, we should recognize and accept the legal marriages from other states and countries where the barriers to equality have been overcome.”

Same sex marriages are legal in 12 states and the District of Columbia. Same sex marriages performed outside the state are now treated as civil unions in New Jersey, according to a 2007 legal opinion by the state attorney general.

“The tide of public opinion has shifted dramatically in support of marriage equality and the legal decisions are following,” said Weinberg. “We will continue to fight for the civil right for gay and lesbian couples to marry but, until we succeed, this will at least provide acceptance to legal marriages elsewhere.”

The bill would apply to marriages before and after the date the legislation takes effect.


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