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New Jersey same-sex couples sue for equal marriage rights

[JURIST] New Jersey same-sex couples who previously sued for marriage equality filed suit [motion, PDF] again Thursday seeking to legalize same-sex marriage [JURIST news archive]. The case is being brought [press release] on behalf of six couples and the surviving partner of a seventh by Lambda Legal [advocacy website]. They filed a motion in the Supreme Court of New Jersey [official website] arguing that the decision handed down in 2002 in Lewis v. Harris [decision text], which said same-sex couples should have "full rights and benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples," is not being followed adequately with civil unions. The plaintiffs claim that they "and other committed lesbian gay partners in New Jersey live in second-class circumstances, relegated to demonstrably inferior, state-created status of civil unions." They argue that same-sex couples lack workplace benefits and protections, face unequal treatment and lack of recognition in public accommodations and civic life, and that their children are "prejudiced by the unequal and inferior legal and social status" of civil unions.

In January, the New Jersey Senate voted 20-14 to defeat a bill [JURIST report] that would have legalized same-sex marriage in the state. The Senate Judiciary Committee had voted 7-6 in favor of the bill [JURIST report] in December, marking the first time that any body in the state legislature [official website] had approved same-sex marriage legislation. Same-sex marriage is currently legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Washington DC [JURIST reports]. New Jersey has recognized same-sex civil unions [JURIST report] since 2006.

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