NJ: Single Judge Can't Force Gay Marriage Recognition
The New Jersey Attorney General's office gears closer to a decision to file for an appeal in an effort to delay the start of same-sex marriage in the state. (Published Friday, Oct 11, 2013)
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's administration says a single judge shouldn't be able to force the state to recognize gay marriage.
That's one of the arguments in legal papers filed Friday by the state as part of its effort to delay implementation of a judge's September order to legalize gay marriage in the state as of Oct. 21.
The brief, filed in an appeals court, comes a day after Judge Mary Jacobson turned down New Jersey's request to delay the effective date of her order while the state Supreme Court decides whether she was right.
Last month, Jacobson ruled that the state must recognize same-sex nuptials starting Oct. 21, saying the state is blocking some of its residents from federal legal protection for their relationships.
The administration of Christie, a Republican and possible 2016 presidential candidate, is asking the state Supreme Court to overturn Jacobson's decision.
In the meantime, the state also asked Jacobson to delay the mandate until the main case is sorted out by higher courts.
On Thursday, Jacobson refused.
A delay "would simply allow the state to continue to violate the equal protection rights of New Jersey same-sex couples, which can hardly be considered a public interest," she said in her opinion.
Gay-rights supporters lauded the ruling, which moves New Jersey a step closer to having same-sex marriages occur this month.
The state, which immediately appealed the ruling, has until noon Friday to lay out its position. Garden State Equality, which along with a half-dozen same-sex couples sued for the state to legalize gay marriage, has until Tuesday to file a response.
The state had told Jacobson that New Jersey would be harmed by moving ahead with gay marriage now — in part because having same-sex couples legally wed would make it harder for a court not to allow gay marriage.
Christie supports civil unions, which the state has had since 2007, but says marriage laws should be changed only by a popular vote.
"I don't think that should be decided by 121 politicians in Trenton or seven judges on the Supreme Court," he said at a debate this week. "It should be decided by the 8.8 million people of New Jersey."
Copyright Associated Press