NJ Judge to Hear Gay Marriage Case on DOMA Ruling
TRENTON - A New Jersey court case headed for oral arguments this week is among the first to test what a June U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down key parts of a law barring federal recognition of same-sex marriage means in states.
Even though the ruling will affect only New Jersey directly, it's being watched closely for broader implications.
"I think every challenge now and every court hearing is going to be amplified until it seems more clear whether we're going to have a patchwork in the states or a national policy," said Bill Duncan, director of the Orem, Utah-based Marriage Law Foundation, which opposes allowing same-sex couples to wed.
The hearing Thursday in Superior Court in Trenton is based on a lawsuit from two years ago, when six couples and their children argued that New Jersey's civil union law didn't fulfill a 2006 state Supreme Court ruling that said gay couples had to have the same legal protections as married couples. The civil union law was intended to give same-sex couples the legal benefits of marriage.
It's not clear when the judge might rule, and her decision will likely be appealed to a higher court.
The hearing brings the spotlight on gay marriage back to New Jersey, where the legal battle over the issue has been waged since 2002 - before any state recognized same-sex marriage.
Now, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are the only states in the Northeast not among the 13 that nationally recognize it.