TRENTON – The New Jersey Supreme Court has denied the state’s motion for a stay of a lower court ruling that directs officials to begin permitting same-sex couples to marry on Monday.
The court will hear the state’s appeal of the lower court case, with oral arguments scheduled in January, but today’s 7-0 ruling clears the way for same-sex couples to enter into civil marriages that allow them to qualify for the same federal benefits extended to married couples.
“The state has not shown a reasonable probability it will succeed on the merits” of its appeal, wrote Chief Justice Stuart Rabner in the court’s opinion on the stay motion.
New Jersey currently allows same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, but the court noted, “Because plaintiffs cannot marry under State law, they and their children are simply not eligible for a host of federal benefits available to same-sex married couples today.”
Republican Gov. Chris Christie opposes same-sex marriage and his administration is appealing Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson’s Sept. 27 ruling that same sex-couples are being denied their constitutionally-guaranteed equal rights following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act this summer.
Christie, who has vetoed marriage equality legislation, favors putting the question on the ballot so voters can decide the issue. Democrats have opposed letting majority rule decide a civil rights issue. Polls show that a majority of New Jersey residents support same-sex couples’ right to civil marriage.
Six families and Garden State Equality filed the suit to win the right to enter into lawful marriages.
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!