[JURIST] A New Jersey judge on Thursday denied [order, PDF] the state’s motion to stay her September 27 order [JURIST report] to begin permitting same-sex couples to enter civil marriages on October 21. On October 1 the state requested that the court stay its order [JURIST report] until the “ultimate arbiter of substantial constitutional issues of first impression,” the Supreme Court, renders its decision. In her statement of reasons [text, PDF], Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson concluded:
Enforcing the Order will not cause the State to suffer irreparable harm, the State does not have a likelihood of succeeding on appeal, and balancing the equities heavily favors rejecting the motion for a stay. Plaintiffs would suffer many hardships of constitutional magnitude if the stay were to be issued, but the State has not demonstrated how it would suffer in any meaningful way if the Order is enforced.
Jacobson found that the state’s abstract claim of irreparable harm pales in comparison to the concrete harm that the plaintiffs, Garden State Equality [advocacy website] and six gay and lesbian couples and their children, would suffer, including ineligibility for many federal marital benefits.
The heated debate regarding same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is one of the most polarizing issues currently facing the US legal community. Last month Michigan’s Treasury Department ruled [JURIST report] that same-sex spouses must file separate tax returns. Also last month a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio expanded a lawsuit [JURIST report] seeking the recognition of same-sex spouses on death certificates. Judge Timothy Black ruled in July and September [JURIST reports] that the surviving same-sex spouses of two decedents should be listed as spouses on death certificates, because their marriages were valid under the laws of the states where they were performed. Earlier last week a Kentucky judge ruled that the same-sex spouse of a woman charged with murder must testify against her at the trial because same-sex partners are not protected by the spousal privilege [JURIST report] under Kentucky state law. Last month the Texas Supreme Court announced that it will consider whether the state has jurisdiction [JURIST report] to grant divorces to two same-sex couples who were legally married in Massachusetts.