Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Judge Mary Jacobson, who last month ordered the state to allow same sex marriages because she said gay couples are being denied equal rights "every day," Thursday wrote that delaying the start date would prolong "violations of their constitutional rights." Christie to appeal judge's ruling allowing same-sex marriage:
[Judge Mary Jacobson] refused to delay the Oct. 21 start date she set to begin same-sex marriages in New Jersey, rejecting the Christie administration’s contention that no gay weddings should be peformed while the case is still being fought in the courts.
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It’s possible the Oct. 21 start date could still be put on hold. The Christie administration quickly responded Thursday by requesting the state Appellate Division grant the delay instead. The appeals court could consider the motion as soon as next week, according to filing deadlines it set for both sides to make their case.
Gay rights advocates applauded Jacobson’s decision.
In her ruling last month, Jacobson said same-sex couples in New Jersey were being denied equal rights and must be allowed to marry beginning Oct. 21 to receive the full range of federal benefits that heterosexual couples receive.
Christie’s administration is seeking to appeal directly to the state Supreme Court to prevent the marriages. In the meantime, it asked Jacobson to delay marriages until the appeals process is through.
But in her 17-page decision Thursday, Jacobson said allowing marriages to move forward would cause no harm to the state and the administration was unlikely to succeed on appeal.
"The ‘harm’ (the state) alleges simply cannot justify depriving plaintiffs and other same-sex couples of equality in the form of access to important federal marital benefits," Jacobson wrote.
The decision came the same day a new Quinnipiac University poll showed 61 percent of likely New Jersey voters think Christie should drop the appeal.
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Democrats in the Legislature, who are trying to muster enough votes to override Christie’s veto of their gay marriage bill, called on the governor to drop his fight following Thursday's decisison.
"Gov. Christie needs to finally get the message and stop doing everything he can to stand in the way of civil rights," Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) said in a statement. "Enough is enough, governor. Do the right thing."
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barabara Buono said Christie "remains firmly on the wrong side of history."
As I previously posted:
The decision follows a New Jersey Supreme Court decision that required same-sex couples to have access to all the same benefits of opposite-sex couples, except the word marriage. The state legislature chose instead to extend civil unions, but the federal benefits that have been offered since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned DOMA have not applied to civil unions, which are not accounted for in federal statutes.
Based upon this New Jersey Supreme Court precedent, it would appear that court is not inclined to side with Governor Christie on appeal. The court was signaling that if the appropriate plaintiff brought the appropriate claim, it was ready to move beyond the limitation in its prior order (which predates the U.S. Supreme Court decisions on DOMA). The U.S. Supreme Court decisions give the court impetus to move forward.
UPDATE: The New Mexico Supreme Court will hear arguments on October 23 in a case which may determine the right to marry for same-sex couples in the state.
A special session in the Hawaii Legislature to move forward a bill that would legalize gay marriage is scheduled to begin October 28.