Legislators in the US state of New Jersey may not seek to write equal marriage into law immediately, despite a court ruling last month legalising it, as doing so could leave gay couples with less rights than if they do nothing.
The issue is, under the ruling by Judge Mary Jacobson that the state must allow equal marriage, which was held up by the Supreme Court in the state, gay couples have more rights than under an equal marriage bill which passed in 2012, but which was vetoed by Governor Chris Christie.
One of the sponsors of the original equal marriage bill, Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, said: “Overriding the veto will take away certain rights that currently exist based on the court decision, or let’s put it this way, have not been eliminated.”
Weinberg refers to a religious exemption which was included in the bill, which allows any religious “society, institution or organization” to deny gay couples “space, services, advantages, goods, or privileges related to the solemnization, celebration or promotion of marriage.”
Such an exemption currently does not exist under the court ruling. Under the 1st Amendment, clergy will not be forced to perform same-sex marriages.
Leaders in the Legislature have made no decision on the option, but apparently have three options.
They can do nothing, attempt to override Christie’s 2012 veto of the bill, or pass a new bill, which would allow state Republicans to get on board with equal marriage in the state.
Weinberg has said that Democrats in the state will discuss their strategy in a meeting on Thursday.