Equal marriage advocates in the US state of New Jersey have called on a state judge to immediately legalise same-sex marriage in the state, following the Supreme Court’s strike-down of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
The state’s current ban on equal marriage deprives same-sex couples of equal rights, because the government does not recognise civil unions, argued advocates.
“Married same-sex couples in states that respect their marriages are eligible for the complete, vast array of federal rights, benefits and obligations,” a coalition of gay rights groups said the motion, filed in Mercer County Superior Court by Garden State Equality, the state’s largest gay rights group.
“New Jersey denies these numerous federal benefits to same-sex couples in New Jersey,” it continued.
The groups in support of legalising equal marriage announced on 26 that they would file the motion. On 26 June the US Supreme Court also struck a fatal blow to DOMA, a move which advocates said reinforced their case.
The Attorney General’s office in the state, which is defending the civil union law, has 30 days to respond.
Assignment Judge Mary C Jacobson, has scheduled a hearing on 15 August, at which to consider the request. This would accelerate a previous case filed in Superior Court, Mercer County.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s ongoing opposition to equal marriage may represent the coalition’s clearest path forward.