.- New Jersey’s highest court yesterday ruled that “there is no fundamental right to same-sex marriage.” However, the 4-3 ruling does claim that the state constitution gives same-sex couples equivalent civil rights afforded to heterosexual couples, but that lawmakers must decide how to grant those rights.
The court gave the legislature six months to create a structure for same-sex couples to receive all the same benefits of marriage. This ruling reverses the June 2005 decision of a New Jersey appellate court.
The court said, "the Legislature must either amend the marriage statutes to include same-sex couples or create a parallel statutory structure, which will provide for, on equal terms, the rights and benefits enjoyed and burdens and obligations borne by married couples."
The Alliance for Marriage immediately called upon Congress to pass the Marriage Protection Amendment. The lobby group filed an amicus brief in the case, arguing that the legislature of New Jersey was fully entitled to protect marriage as an institution that seeks to ensure that more children will be raised in a home with a mother and a father.
"Most Americans believe that gays and lesbians have a right to live as they choose. But they don't believe they have a right to redefine marriage for our entire society," said Matt Daniels, president of the Alliance for Marriage.
In December, attorneys for the Alliance Defense Fund also filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Family Research Council, defending marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
“If marriage can mean anything, then marriage means nothing,” said ADF senior counsel Glen Lavy. “This is a wake-up call for people who believe that marriage doesn’t need constitutional protection.
“The court was right to conclude there is no fundamental right to same-sex ‘marriage,’ but to characterize marriage as just another option along with other ‘unions’ makes marriage meaningless,” he continued. “It’s critical that people vote for marriage amendments, like those in Arizona, Virginia, and Wisconsin, which prevent a court from giving same-sex couples marriage in everything but name only.”
New Jersey citizens will vote on a Nov. 7 ballot, in which the marriage amendment is one of the items.
“Nine major court rulings this year have said that marriage is for the people and the legislature to decide,” Lavy said in a statement. “In 20 states, the people have spoken by adopting amendments to protect marriage -- by an average margin of 71 percent. We need such amendments to stop the kind of judicial activism found in this decision.”
“Legally, marriage is the state’s way of protecting children by ensuring that whenever possible they are raised by their own mother and father,” said Lavy. “Because same-sex couples can’t procreate, this vital state interest is not advanced by handing out marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The court declined to address this issue because the attorney general specifically refused to make the argument.”
Catholic League president Bill Donohue agreed that the court decision is “a wakeup call to the vast majority of Americans who are opposed to gay marriage but are reluctant to access the constitutional amendment process as the right remedy.”
“When faced with the prospect of arrogant judges who continue to appropriate powers to themselves that are nowhere authorized in law, many will now reconsider their reservations,” Donohue said.
Chief counsel for Concerned Women for America, Jan LaRue, said the ruling mirrors the Vermont Supreme Court ruling in 1999.
"This is a textbook example of agenda-driven judges," said LaRue. “Because New Jersey has no residency requirement for marriage, if the legislature caves in to the court, it could open the door for lawsuits challenging every state’s marriage law," she warned.