New Jersey lawmakers call on state court to uphold gay marriage

Mon Sep 30, 2013 3:43pm EDT
 
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By Dave Warner

TRENTON, New Jersey (Reuters) - Leaders of the Democratic-controlled New Jersey State Senate on Monday asked the state Supreme Court to uphold a ruling by a lower state court late last week allowing same sex marriage.

"We're out of the dark ages now," Senate President Steve Sweeney told a press conference in the state capitol. "Let people marry."

"It's illegal," he said. "Let the Supreme Court take it up right now."

A state Superior Court judge on Friday issued a ruling that would allow same-sex in New Jersey beginning October 21, a move that would make the northeast state the 14th in nation to allow gay marriages, which are also legal in the District of Columbia.

Sweeney noted that a June decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down a key part of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as between a man and a woman had the effect of making New Jersey law banning same-sex marriage illegal.

In its ruling, the court struck down Section 3 of DOMA, which limited the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman for the purposes of federal benefits, as a violation of the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law.

Since the Supreme Court ruling, same-sex marriage supporters have been challenging state laws across the nation that similarly limit marriage to heterosexual couples.

Earlier this month a Pennsylvania judge ordered a county clerk in that state to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a practice the clerk had begun after the DOMA decision in June. The clerk has vowed to appeal that ruling.   Continued...