Target: New Jersey Judge Mary C. Jacobson
Goal: Applaud Judge Mary C. Jacobson for ruling that gay couples have the right to marry
New Jersey Judge Mary C. Jacobson recently ruled that gay couples have a constitutional right to get married under New Jersey’s state constitution. She thus ordered that marriage equality go into full effect on October 21, 2013 if the decision is not stayed by a higher court. While Jacobsen’s decision does not overturn the current civil unions law that is in effect in New Jersey, it does affirm that gay couples do possess the right to marriage and to receive all of the benefits connected with it after the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. Jacobson’s decision sets the groundwork for marriage equality in New Jersey and should be applauded.
In Judge Jacobson’s statement, she proclaims that not granting same-sex couples federal benefits harms them in a plethora of contexts: civil union partners who work for the government and live in New Jersey are not eligible for marital rights as it relates to the pension system; civil union partners who are employed by businesses may not have protections for their spouses under the Family and Medical Leave Act; and finally, all civil union couples do not have access to the federal tax benefits that heterosexual couples receive.
Judge Jacobson asserts that if this trend of federal agencies considering civil union partners ineligible for marriage benefits continues, spouses of gay couples will continue to suffer while their heterosexual counterparts in New Jersey still receive marriage benefits for the sole reason that the State labels their marriage as valid. Such unequal treatment calls for New Jersey to extend civil marriages to gay couples in order to fulfill the equal protections clause in the New Jersey constitution. This interpretation of the constitution was done by the New Jersey Supreme Court in the Lewis case. Therefore, Judge Jacobson declared, same-sex couples must possess the right to marry to get equal protection under the law.
The Judge further refuted the state’s claim that it was not accountable for the U.S. government’s decision not to acknowledge civil unions when doling out marriage benefits. She argues that the state was responsible for creating an inferior status for gay couples. If this decision is put into effect, New Jersey will become the fourteenth state to recognize same-sex marriage. Although the decision is expected to be appealed, it nonetheless represents a small victory in the fight for equal rights for members of the gay community. Please sign this petition to applaud Judge Jacobson for advocating for gay rights.
Dear Judge Mary C. Jacobson,
We applaud you for your decision that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to get married in the state of New Jersey. If your decision does not get stayed by a higher court, on October 21, 2013 gay couples will have the legal right to get married in New Jersey. They will receive all of the marital benefits that heterosexual couples receive under state and federal law.
If successful, your decision will make New Jersey the fourteenth state to allow gay couples to get married. We applaud you for advocating for members of the gay community in their fight for equal rights.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: jglsongs via Flickr