As New Jersey became the 14th state in the Union to license gay marriage, I am left wondering why and what is next. Will this judicial activism have any impact on churches? Some may think I am over reacting, but I fear that the church is 15-25 years away from being forced to perform same sex marriage or risk losing tax exemption for discrimination. A Pastor threating to close his church doors before doing so, is no threat at all.
If a church wants to continue to practice the Biblical definition of marriage, it needs to protect itself. I see a potential for litigation to force a church to marry same sex couples, as is already happening in England. Barrie Drewitt-Barlow, The gay plaintiff in the legal challenge in England said “The only way forward for us now is to make a challenge in the courts against the church.” It is a matter of time before American churches are also legally challenged.
Currently most churches will marry non-members in a religious ceremony at the church, this practice must end immediately and new policy implemented as soon as possible. I believe churches should have a policy to only marry members. In order to be a member each person must sign a statement of faith that includes acceptance of the Biblical definition of marriage. Anyone can attend the church but only members can be married in the church.
Kissing Brides, Heather Jensen and Amy Quinn, an Asbury Park Councilwoman, celebrate their marriage shortly after midnight on October 21. facebook photo
Assembly Minority Leader Lou Greenwald told The Star Ledger that Assembly Democrats are not likely to pass legislation that would protect clergy and religious organizations from being forced to perform same sex marriages and accommodate the ceremonies.
What’s less clear is what the Legislature is going to do about gay marriage. Right now, gay couples can get married in New Jersey. But that right hangs on a decision made at the Superior Court level, since the state Supreme Court never decided the case.
Lawmakers could try to override Christie’s 2012 veto of gay marriage legislation or write a new bill to encode it into law. Or they could do nothing — an option they say is looking more attractive.
Greenwald said the Assembly is leaning against an override because, even if they cobbled together the two-thirds majority they’d need to pull it off, a religious exemption provision that was inserted into the bill to win Republican support could actually restrict rights gay couples have under the court ruling.
“The answer probably is no,” Greenwald said of the override. “Right now in New Jersey, the opinion seems to be that we have the strongest marriage equality laws in the country.”
Early last year the New Jersey Legislature passed the Marriage Equality and Religious Exceptions Act which, if it had been signed by Governor Chris Christie, would have granted same sex couples the right to marry and recognized the First Amendment Right of clergy and religious societies, organizations and institutions not to solemnize gay marriage or provide space, goods, services, advantages or privileges for gay marriage ceremonies. The Act would have provided immunity from civil law suits against religious organizations that refused to accommodate gay marriages.
Same Sex Nuptials Are Now Certain To Remain Legal in New Jersey
Kissing Brides, Heather Jensen and Amy Quinn, an Asbury Park Councilwoman, celebrate their marriage shortly after midnight this morning. facebook photo
Given the State Supreme Court’s signal that the Christie administration would not prevail in its appeal of Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson’s decision compelling the State to grant same sex couples the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples, Governor Chris Christie withdrew his appeal today, the first day that gay couples can wed in New Jersey under Jacobson’s order and the Supreme Court’s refusal to stay that order.
“Although the governor strongly disagrees with the court substituting its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches or a vote of the people, the court has now spoken clearly as to their view of the New Jersey constitution and, therefore, same-sex marriage is the law,” said Colin Reed, a spokesman for Christie. “The governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court.”
State Senator Mike Doherty issued a statement condemning Christie for caving to the activist judiciary.
While New Jersey’s gay community is understandably encouraged by the recent Superior Court decision declaring a prohibition on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, the cold reality is that the stronger hand is still held by its chief opponent, Gov.…
TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie’s administration said it will seek to delay the Oct. 21 start date for same-sex marriages in New Jersey and is asking the state Supreme Court to fast-track an appeal in the case, according to a letter sent to the justices…
Governor Christie’s press office just issued the following statement:
“Governor 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. Since the legislature refused to allow the people to decide expeditiously, we will let the Supreme Court make this constitutional determination.”
Today’s decision requiring the state to officiate same-sex marriages was made by Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson sitting in Mercer County. In order for the Supreme Court to decide the constitutionality the issue, Jacobson’s ruling will have to be appealed.
A Superior Court Judge in Mercer County ruled that New Jersey officials must begin officiating same sex marriages by October 21, according to a report in The Star Ledger.
Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson granted an emergency request by six gay couples, ordering state officials to begin officiating same-sex marriages on Oct. 21.
“The ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits is currently harming same-sex couples in New Jersey in a wide range of contexts,” she wrote.
For example, the judge said, “civil union partners who are federal employees living in New Jersey are ineligible for marital rights with regard to the federal pension system, all civil union partners who are employees working for businesses to which the Family and Medical Leave Act applies may not rely on its statutory protections for spouses, and civil union couples may not access the federal tax benefits that married couples enjoy.”
Jacobson was asked to square the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in June striking down the Defense of Marriage Act with New Jersey’s own legal precedents.
TRENTON — Under the din of a bustling election season, there’s a quiet movement afoot to make gay marriage a reality in New Jersey by the end of the year. Advocates have been working to convince state lawmakers — including a number of Republicans…
O’Scanlon was absent from the February 2012 vote because he was attending Senator Jennifer Beck’s wedding in Jamaica. Upon his return to New Jersey, he told triCityNews that he would have voted for the bill had he been present and that he would vote to override Christie’s veto if it ever comes up for a vote.
triCityNews is not published online. Publisher Dan Jacobson verified my recollection of O’Scanlon’s quotes on the phone this evening.
The issue is in the news again because marriage equality advocates have been in Trenton this week lobbying for an override of Christie’s veto before the end of the legislative session in January.
The Marriage Equality and Religious Exemptions Act passed the Senate with a vote of 24-16 and the Assembly by 42-33, with 5 Assembly members, including O’Scanlon and Mary Pat Angelini not voting. An override requires a 2/3 affirmative vote. In order for an override to succeed, the bill needs three additional yes votes in the Senate and 12 yes votes in the Assembly. O’Scanlon and Angelini represent two of the needed yes votes. Republican Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi of Bergen County also didn’t vote in 2012. Schepisi said she would vote to override, leaving the bill needing 9 votes to pass in the Assembly.
If there is a override vote, it probably won’t occur until the “lame duck” session after the November election and before the new legislature takes office in January.
The two candidates competing for the Republican nomination to complete the late U. S. Senator Frank Lautenberg’s term favor same sex marriage being legal.
Reacting to the U. S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan said,
“Today’s decision is the unfortunate result of an activist, liberal court that has little respect for the Constitution and our nation’s founding principles. While I believe government should not be in the business of marriage, it is not the Supreme Court’s responsibility to make that decision. Laws should be made by legislatures, not by unelected judges. To do so is a usurpation of our democratic tradition at the heart of this country’s founding.”
I wonder if Lonegan would have called the decision “unfortunate” if the Court ruled that the government should not be in the business of marriage.
UPDATE A few readers have mentioned that Lonegan’s statement does not make it clear that he favors marriage equality. Here it is: While I believe government should not be in the business of marriage ….
If government doesn’t regulate marriage and who can get married, than same sex couples can be married.
Dr. Alieta Eck said,
“While I personally believe that traditional marriage is an important institution to defend, the Supreme Court was correct in rejecting a federal attempt to define it. Marriage is a religious institution. There was a time when the general consensus agreed with organized religion, but those times have passed. We must never abandon the Constitution in guarding equal protection and free association under the law.”
The four candidates competing for the Democratic Senate nomination, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Congressman Frank Pallone, Congressman Rush Holt and Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver also support marriage equality.
The Democratic and Republican nominations for Senate will be decided in special primaries to be held on August 13. The new senator will be elected in a special election to be held on October 16.