Political leaders in New Jersey have vowed to appeal a judge’s ruling that “gay marriage” must be recognized in the state because of a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“It’s essential that a single lower court judge not be allowed to impose her own views of marriage on the entire state,” Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said Sept. 27.
He characterized the judge’s ruling as “a gross abuse of power that cannot be allowed to stand.”
The office of New Jersey governor Chris Christie has said it will appeal the decision. Spokesman Michael Drewniak said the governor believes the decision should be up to the voters.
“Gov. Christie has always maintained that he would abide by the will of the voters on the issue of marriage equality and called for it to be on the ballot this Election Day,” Drewniak said, according to the Associated Press
Judge Mary Jacobson of the New Jersey Superior Court agreed with several same-sex couples that the state’s lack of recognition for “gay marriage” unconstitutionally denies them federal benefits such as federally required medical leave and the ability to file joint federal tax returns. She said the state must recognize same-sex “marriages” beginning Oct. 21.
In her ruling, Jacobson cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling in United States v. Windsor, which struck down key provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act.
Critics, however, noted that the Windsor decision did not impose a “right” to same-sex “marriage” on the nation, but instead upheld the right of states to define marriage for themselves, saying only that the federal government must recognize such unions if they are allowed by individual states.
New Jersey’s Catholic bishops had criticized efforts to redefine marriage in a January 2012 statement.
“Same sex unions may represent a new and a different type of institution – but it is not marriage and should not be treated as marriage,” they said.
Marriage, they explained, “unites mothers and fathers in the work of childrearing,” serving as the “foundation of the family,” which is the “basic unit of society.”
A government that insists that same-sex unions are equal to unions between a man and a woman teaches “not only that mothers and fathers are no longer necessary for children, but also that uniting the sexes is no longer an important ideal,” the bishops said.
Previous efforts to redefine marriage through the legislature have been vetoed by Governor Christie, who opposes “gay marriage” but supports the state’s same-sex civil union law. That law was mandated by a 2006 New Jersey Supreme Court decision that same-sex couples should have all the legal rights and privileges of marriage, without requiring that these unions be called marriages.