New Jersey is one of a few states that allows same-sex civil unions. While this gives gay couples certain family law rights and legal acceptance, many still contend that the laws are limited. The recent Defense of Marriage Act rulings have become the flag by which same-sex partners in Somerville are marching toward gay marriage.
Unfortunately, many people feel that the state is standing in the way of gay couples obtaining certain benefits made accessible to them by the federal government. This went to court recently and a judge heard the arguments from lawyers on both sides.
The state's representative in the dispute claims that same-sex couples under civil union laws can still obtain some federal benefits despite the state not allowing same-sex marriage. They also added that the fault lies with the federal government. The judge will rule on the matter no earlier than September.
The couples sued the state in 2011, arguing that civil unions violate a 2006 Supreme Court ruling that sides with gay couples. Benefits granted permission to same-sex couples by the federal government make the case against the state stronger. They want an immediate court ruling and the legalization of same-sex marriage in New Jersey, which is one of a few northeastern states that does not recognize it. While the court recognizes that a ruling from the bench is possible, it is a rarity for a case such as this. Regardless, an appeal to a higher court is still possible.
State legislators passed a bill last year that would have recognized gay marriage in the state. The governor vetoed the proposal and gay rights advocates have been trying to get lawmakers to override it. Of course, same-sex marriages also have unique but similar sets of family laws and tools.
Source: Las Vegas Sun, "NJ judge pressed to allow gay marriage in state," Aug. 22, 2013