N.J. motion to stay same-sex-marriage ruling opposed

An American flag and a LGBT Rainbow flag are displayed on the ferry dock in the Fire Island community of Cherry Grove, N.Y. The 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York City is generally accepted as the Lexington and Concord of the gay rights revolution - the first shots in a battle that eventually led to last week's landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage. But in this seaside resort 60 miles east of Manhattan, reports that homosexuals were standing up for their rights that summer of Woodstock and moon landings was hardly breaking news: a gay community in Cherry Grove had been thriving there for at least two decades before Stonewall. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
An American flag and a LGBT Rainbow flag are displayed on the ferry dock in the Fire Island community of Cherry Grove, N.Y. The 1969 Stonewall uprising in New York City is generally accepted as the Lexington and Concord of the gay rights revolution - the first shots in a battle that eventually led to last week's landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage. But in this seaside resort 60 miles east of Manhattan, reports that homosexuals were standing up for their rights that summer of Woodstock and moon landings was hardly breaking news: a gay community in Cherry Grove had been thriving there for at least two decades before Stonewall. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) (AP)
Posted: October 06, 2013

The State of New Jersey has failed to prove that it would suffer irreparable harm if same-sex couples are allowed to marry starting Oct. 21, according to a legal brief filed Friday that opposes a state motion to delay the judicial ruling.

In addition, according to the brief by Lambda Legal, the state's motion, filed Tuesday, does not recognize the serious harm inflicted on couples who would be barred from marrying.

"Specifically, every day that same-sex couples cannot marry is a day they do not have - and risk permanently losing - vital benefits relating to their health, income, quality of life, personal and financial security, and family stability," the Lambda brief states. "In stark contrast, the state asserts no real hardships at all, let alone equities that compare."

State Attorney General's Office spokesman Leland Moore declined to comment Friday.

On Sept. 27, Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson, ruling in Garden State Equality v. Dow, found that the state's civil union law violated civil rights. She ordered that same-sex couples be allowed to marry starting Oct. 21.

The Christie administration quickly stated that it intended to appeal and moved for the judge to stay her order while the state sought to have the case heard by a higher court.

In its motion, the state said it was likely to win on appeal. As for irreparable harm, which in New Jersey must be shown to win a stay, the state cited the court's superseding the civil-union law, which was passed by legislators.

Hayley Gorenberg, deputy legal director of Lambda Legal, an organization that advocates for legal rights for LGBT people and those with AIDS, said the state had showed no real harm.

"The harms of a stay are exclusively on the part of the plaintiffs," she said. "Their families are hurt every day that they can't protect them legally."

Among the potential harms of denying couples the right to marry mentioned in the brief are denial of federal family leave to care for a sick partner, inability to sponsor a civil-union partner in immigration matters, loss of federal survivor benefits, and tax disadvantages.

Garden State Equality executive director Troy Stevenson said he found it "very ironic and very offensive" that the state would argue it was being harmed by the court's override of a law, given that the Legislature passed a later law allowing same-sex marriages. That law was vetoed by Gov. Christie, who has said he believes the issue should be left to the voters to decide.

Stevenson also said his organization was pushing ahead with its campaign to garner legislative support for a veto override.

The state can file a response to Lambda Legal's brief Monday. The state has indicated it would take its quest for a stay to the Appellate Division if Jacobson denies its request.


 

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