Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Down Not Out in Newark

By 2-1, a New Jersey appeals court ruled against permitting same-sex marriage. The plaintiffs will take it to the state Supreme Court.

The Star-Ledger has a report online here.

The majority judges wrote that the legislature would have to change the marriage law first to permit same-sex marriages. The dissenter, Judge Donald Collester, had a strongly worded commentary, including that the right is "effectively meaningless unless it includes the freedom to marry a person of one's choice." His dissent included a comparison to race-mixing prohibitions.

The lead attorney, LAMDBA's David Buckel, said, "We are disappointed but not discouraged, because we always knew we were headed to the high court, and so, we'll be trying to get there as soon as possible and we are hopeful the high court will agree with the better-reasoned dissent."

The majority opinion of Judges Stephen Skilman and Anthony Parrillo compared the plaintiffs' arguments to those that could be made for polygamy. In contrast, Collester noted the circular reasoning of the majority — "...plaintiffs cannot marry because by definition they cannot marry."

A wrinkle in the New Jersey case is that while this suit was proceeding, the legislature passed a domestic-partnership act that went into effect last year. This grants same-sex couples limited rights. I bet the legislature thought they had side-stepped this issue.

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