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Category: Gay Marriage

Bell Doubles-Down: SCOTUS “Completely Incoherent”

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

supreme court 2012Say what you want about Jeff Bell’s strategy, Save Jerseyans, but the guy isn’t afraid to double-down on his socially-conservative views in a time and cycle where that’s not the most popular page in the Republican Party playbook.

He continued to do so on Monday after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear legal challenges to gay marriage in the strongest possible terms.

“The Supreme Court’s decision to refuse to take these appeals is completely incoherent. Just 16 months ago, the Court said states have a right to define marriage in their own way,” said Bell in a statement. “Now the court allows lower federal courts to rule this supposed right out of bounds. The court should get its act together, or else none of its decisions will provide any predictability to the states or to our legal system.”

Bell’s comments came as clerks in North Carolina and Alaska began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Gay marriage has been de facto legal in the Garden State for about one year now.


Greenwald: Let Them Eat (Wedding) Cake!

Democratic Leader Wants No Religious Exceptions For Gay Marriage

By Art Gallagher |

Kissing Brides, Heather Jensen and Amy Quinn, an Asbury Park Councilwoman, celebrate their marriage shortly after midnight on October 21. facebook photo

Kissing Brides, Heather Jensen and Amy Quinn, an Asbury Park Councilwoman, celebrate their marriage shortly after midnight on October 21. facebook photo

Assembly Minority Leader Lou Greenwald told The Star Ledger that Assembly Democrats are not likely to pass legislation that would protect clergy and religious organizations from being forced to perform same sex marriages and accommodate the ceremonies.

What’s less clear is what the Legislature is going to do about gay marriage. Right now, gay couples can get married in New Jersey. But that right hangs on a decision made at the Superior Court level, since the state Supreme Court never decided the case.

Lawmakers could try to override Christie’s 2012 veto of gay marriage legislation or write a new bill to encode it into law. Or they could do nothing — an option they say is looking more attractive.

Greenwald said the Assembly is leaning against an override because, even if they cobbled together the two-thirds majority they’d need to pull it off, a religious exemption provision that was inserted into the bill to win Republican support could actually restrict rights gay couples have under the court ruling.

“The answer probably is no,” Greenwald said of the override. “Right now in New Jersey, the opinion seems to be that we have the strongest marriage equality laws in the country.”

Early last year the New Jersey Legislature passed the Marriage Equality and Religious Exceptions Act which, if it had been signed by Governor Chris Christie, would have granted same sex couples the right to marry and recognized the First Amendment Right of clergy and religious societies, organizations and institutions not to solemnize gay marriage or provide space, goods, services, advantages or privileges for gay marriage ceremonies.  The Act would have provided immunity from civil law suits against religious organizations that refused to accommodate gay marriages.

Continue Reading…

Doherty Criticizes Christie’s Call

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

Mike DohertyIt’s fair to say that a solid majority of New Jersey voters are either happy with or indifferent to gay marriage’s arrival in the Garden State.

At least one legislator, however, remains strongly critical of both how it came about and the Governor’s Monday morning decision to stop fighting it in the courts.

“As a member of the Legislature, I am disappointed that same-sex marriage is apparently now the law of New Jersey despite neither the enactment of legislation nor a vote of the people to amend our state constitution,” Sen. Michael Doherty (R-16) said in a statement released by his legislative office.

“For four years, Governor Christie has repeatedly stated that he supports traditional marriage and that the voters of New Jersey should decide this important issue,” he continued. “By dropping the state’s appeal, Governor Christie has acquiesced to the same judicial activism that he has long railed against. His action will ensure that the people of New Jersey, and its elected representatives in the legislature, will have no part in deciding this major, societal-changing issue. By refusing to challenge the court’s decision, he is also blocking the opportunity for third parties to present their case to the court via amicus briefs.”

Christie Drops Gay Marriage Suit

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

Christie presser throw downIn a move that’s sure to keep people talking on both sides of the ideological divide, Save Jerseyans, Governor Chris Christie’s office announced on Monday morning that it will no longer pursue its appeal of last month Mercer County Superior Court decision legalizing same sex marriages in New Jerseyans.

Today marks the first day that gay marriage is legal in the Garden State. New Jersey is now the 14th state to legalize gay marriage.

“Although the governor strongly disagrees with the court substituting its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches or a vote of the people, the court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey Constitution and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law,” said a spokesman for the Administration. “The governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court.”

The political calculus behind the Guv’s decision is equally unambiguous. As we’ve seen in other states, once gay marriages are performed, virtually no court will undo them in a liberty vs. public interest balancing test. The Governor has little to gain from the exercise at this point.


LD1 GOP Backs Gay Marriage

Will Garden State Equality Treat LD1 Repubs Equally?

By Irwin M. Fletcher The Save Jersey Blog

Gay-MarriageSave Jerseyans, you might have heard this morning that the District 1 Republican Candidate Susan Adelizzi-Schmidt, Kris Gabor & Sam Fiocchi have publicly shown their support for marriage equality.

I applaud them for having the courage to do so; it’s a timely move considering that gay marriages will be performed across the state today following Friday’s refusal by the New Jersey Supreme Court to grant the Christie Administration’s request for a stay pending appeal.

The LD1 GOP slate’s announcement sets up a very interesting and unusual dynamic in one of 2013’s most hotly contested legislative districts. For you see, the Democratic ticket in District 1 of Jeff Van Drew, Nelson Albano & Bob Andrzejczak does not support marriage equality. They voted against it earlier this year and have said they will not vote to override it’s veto.

Which means in District 1, you have a race where Republicans support marriage equality and the Democrats don’t…


No Stay for Gay Marriage Ruling

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

MarriageThe top state-level judge in Mercer County, the Hon. Mary Jacobson, A.J.S.C.,  has refused to delay the commencement of same-sex marriages in New Jersey (scheduled to begin on October 21st) pending the final resolution of an appeal filed by the Christie Administration.

In short, Save Jerseyans, that means gay marriages could continue to be performed in the Garden State indefinitely unless the N.J. Appellate Division or Supreme Court rules otherwise in the coming months.

This legal drama began back on September 27th when Judge Jacobson granted emergent relief on Friday that was sought by six New Jersey same-sex couples in Garden State Equality v. Dow.

Click here to follow along as the gay marriage debate (in New Jersey anyhow) appears to hurdle towards a conclusion…

Russell: Marriage Case Can Rally Lonegan’s Base

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

Our friend Chris Russell was on NJTV over the weekend discussing Election 2013 generally and, specifically, what impact the Mercer County Superior Court’s gay marriage decision could have on this cycle’s races.

Check it out:

After the decision came down late last month, Save Jerseyans, Mayor Lonegan criticized what he viewed as “judicial activism.” His position on gay marriage itself can nevertheless be best described as libertarian. Lonegan’s campaign strategy is to maximize base turnout in an oddly-timed special election for which the composition of the final Election Day turnout is very much disputed by experts; we’ll know who’s right in ten short days.

Christie Nominates Justice, Seeks Stay

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

Sweeney and Christie discussing their "compromise" with the media.He first made the announcement back in the beginning of August, Save Jerseyans, but the Governor formally nominated Camden County Superior Court Assignment Judge Faustino J. Fernandez-Vina to the New Jersey Supreme Court on Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Christie Administration advised the state’s High Court that it would, as expected, both appeal the decision of Mercer County’s Assignment Judge to legalize gay marriage in New Jersey and seek a “stay” of gay marriages in the Garden State pending the resolution of the appeal.

Control of the State Senate keeps getting more consequential with every passing day, doesn’t it?

Vote accordingly.

Lonegan Rejects “Activist” Gay Marriage Ruling

By Matt Rooney The Save Jersey Blog

Lonegan PresserFollowing Friday’s controversial ruling from a Mercer County Superior Court judge permitting  the performance of gay marriages in New Jersey, U.S. Senate Candidate Steve Lonegan is taking issue with how it’s going down:

“The issue here is not gay marriage. The issue is an activist judge who is legislating from the bench, using her judicial power to advance her own agenda.

 Whether one supports gay marriage or not, this decision must be made by the state legislature and the people of New Jersey, not an activist judge.

As a U.S. Senator, I will only confirm judges that will uphold the Constitution, not twist it like a mere piece of wax to advance their own agenda.”

Chris Christie’s administration plans to appeal the ruling; the Governor has repeatedly expressed his preference for a ballot initiative after vetoing a gay marriage law passed by the state legislature.

Christie Will Appeal Mercer Gay Marriage Ruling

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

Wedding Rings

UPDATE 4:32 p.m.

From Governor Chris Christie’s press secretary:

“Governor Christie has always maintained that he would abide by the will of the voters on the issue of marriage equality and called for it to be on the ballot this Election Day.  Since the legislature refused to allow the people to decide expeditiously, we will let the Supreme Court make this constitutional determination.”

Here we go: an appeal process could take months. Marriages may or may not be allowed to proceed in the interim depending upon whether a higher court issues a “stay” pending appeal… TBD…

Original Post:

Gay marriages are coming to the Garden State next month, Save Jerseyans, barring further interlocutory action by a higher court to stay today’s landmark ruling…


O’Scanlon Reiterates His Support Of Gay Marriage

BArt Gallagher | MoreMonmouthMusings.comDeclan O'Scanlon

Various news sources are reporting that Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R-Monmouth) has “broken with Governor Christie” over the issue of same sex marriage.

The news reports are inaccurate.

O’Scanlon was never “with” Governor Christie on the same sex marriage issue. He’s been on the record as favoring the Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions Act since February of 2012 when the bill passed both houses of the legislature and was vetoed by Christie.

O’Scanlon was absent from the February 2012 vote because he was attending Senator Jennifer Beck’s wedding in Jamaica.   Upon his return to New Jersey, he told triCityNews that he would have voted for the bill had he been present and that he would vote to override Christie’s veto if it ever comes up for a vote.


Will New Jersey Get Same-Sex Marriage by way of SCOTUS?

The same-sex marriage issue has always been an interesting one in New Jersey. Since New Jersey is largely seen as a blue and liberal state (seen any Presidential maps lately?) many around the nation are often surprised to find that same-sex marriage has not yet been passed or mandated by the courts in our state. However, that could soon change.

Mercer-County-CourthouseBack in 2007, when the Democrats controlled every single piece of the state government and could have easily passed a full marriage equality law, the New Jersey legislature passed a civil union law in response to a New Jersey Supreme Court case called Lewis v. Harris. The ruling essentially states that while the state is not required to change the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, it is required to extend all of the rights that come along with marriage to those couples. To put it another way, the court agreed that the concept and definition of marriage was a social tenet that cannot simply be changed on a whim, but that the rights and privileges handed out by the state to couples who have a civilly recognized relationship cannot be denied to anyone. It is a very nuanced argument, and not without its holes, but it was the way that the liberal Supreme Court could impose a step forward for the movement without causing too much of a fuss when the idea os same-sex marriage was not polling nearly as well.

Fast-fordward to earlier this summer when the United States Supreme Court made landmark rulings striking down key provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and we suddenly find this issue back in our state courts.

Garden-State-Equality1Garden State Equality, the state’s largest gay advocacy group, is a star plaintiff in the latest round of legal battles over same-sex marriage in New Jersey. Its argument is that with DOMA gone, and federal benefits being handed out to same-sex couples everywhere who are married, those with civil unions in New Jersey are being discriminated against. This is because the Obama Administration is refusing to extend benefits to any union that is not specifically “marriage.” In yesterday’s summary judgment hearing, the attorney for the plaintiffs drove home the argument that the democratic (with a small “d”) process got it wrong here in New Jersey and that it is the court’s responsibility to protect rights for same-sex couples.

The assistant attorney general arguing for the state suggested that the Federal government was abdicating its own duty based on the way it was executing the law in a post-DOMA nation. That the State is in fact giving all of the rights of marriage actually offered by the State to its same-sex couples, but it should not be the State’s responsibility to offer benefits that very clearly come from the Federal government. According to, the judge was skeptical of this position.

South Jersey liberal activist Jay Lassiter, who attended the hearing, spoke with me after the hearing. After listening to the argument and observing the process, he said

“If I had to guess, I’d say she’ll rule our way . . . it was awkward listening to our governor’s [assistant] AG defend this law . . . the state’s legal argument sounded brittle and retrograde.”

Based on the reports, my guess is that the judge agreed.

No matter which way this decision comes down some time in September, expect that it will continue up the state court chain and once again arrive at the New Jersey Supreme Court’s door.


The Inequality of Making All Things Equal

By Ernesto Cullari | Garden State Liberty

Liberty BellGays and lesbians, since before recorded history have been beaten, they have been stoned, they have been murdered, they have been persecuted, they have been exiled and they have been the victims of every variety of both violence and discrimination; but denying their civil unions the legal status of marriage is not among the terrible evils that have been committed against them. Moreover, those that would reject same-sex marriage are not bigots or hateful if their dissent is a conscientious objection.

Growing up I always felt an affinity with homosexuals, because I felt that they were among the few people that knew the familiar sting of racial discrimination that I faced growing up. So it is with a heavy heart that I must part ways with those that wish to fallaciously advance the idea that traditional marriage and same-sex marriage are the same, innately possessing the same rights and privileges.

And I must disagree with those that say that anyone who rejects same-sex marriage for logical, religious or moral reasons are hatefully ignorant. While there is intolerance on both sides of the issue it appears that those that object to gay marriage currently face the greatest reprisals, which is why I have decided to take on this issue in this column. Their voices shall not be quieted.


“It’ll Happen”

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

Wedding RingsFmr. Gov. Tom Kean told the Star Ledger last week that it’s only a matter of time before gay marriage is the law of the land in New Jersey:

It doesn’t affect us right now because of a ridiculous argument between the governor, who wants to put marriage equality on a ballot, and the Legislature, which wants to address it as a bill, which the governor has said he’d veto. It’ll happen in New Jersey; the majority of people support it. But this nonsense between the governor and Legislature is why we don’t have it today. If it were on the ballot this fall, it would pass.”

The former Governor’s son voted against gay marriage last year. That doesn’t mean Governor Kean is wrong about the trendline. Even both of New Jersey’s hard-right GOP candidates for U.S. Senate have adopted an accepting posture (even if they don’t particularly agree with how the SCOTUS got there). And you know where I stand, Save Jerseyans…