As New Jersey Governor Vetoes Marriage Equality Bill, Lambda Legal Continues Fight in Court

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"There are many roads to justice, and Governor Christie's veto is an unfortunate detour to marriage equality for New Jersey's same-sex couples and their families."
February 17, 2012

"The tide in this region and across country on the issue of marriage equality is not turning—it has turned."

(Trenton, February 17, 2012)—After the New Jersey Assembly passed the marriage equality legislation yesterday, New Jersey Governor Christie quickly vetoed the bill.  Lambda Legal continues its battle in the courts. 
"We are disappointed that Governor Christie did not do what is right for New Jersey families, but we are not discouraged," said Hayley Gorenberg, Lambda Legal Deputy Legal Director. "There are many roads to justice, and Governor Christie's veto is an unfortunate detour to marriage equality for New Jersey's same-sex couples and their families. We'll continue to make our case for equality with our plaintiffs in court. We also stand by our colleagues at Garden State Equality, working to gain support for a veto override in the legislature," Gorenberg said. 
"The tide in this region and across country on the issue of marriage equality is not turning—it has turned. New Jersey should choose to join the right side of history sooner rather than later," Gorenberg added.
Last June, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit for marriage equality in New Jersey arguing that barring same-sex couples from marriage and relegating them to civil union violates the New Jersey Constitution. In November, Lambda Legal defeated defendants' attempt to dismiss the case, and the judge ruled from the bench that the case could proceed. The case is headed for trial early in 2013. 



Garden State Equality, New Jersey's largest LGBT civil rights organization, with more than 82,000 members, is an organizational plaintiff in the case. The plaintiffs include:  Daniel  Weiss, 47, and John Grant, 47, of Asbury Park, who have been together for four years; Marsha Shapiro, 57, and Louise Walpin, 58, of Monmouth Junction, who have been together for 22 years and raised four children; Cindy Meneghin, 54, and Maureen Kilian, 54, of Butler, who were high school sweethearts and have been together for 37 years, raising two children; Tevonda and Erica Bradshaw, both 37, of North Plainfield, who have an infant son and have been together for more than four years; Marcye and Karen Nicholson-McFadden , 48 and 45 respectively, of Aberdeen, who have been together for 21 years and have two children; Keith Heimann, 53, and Tom Davidson, 49, of Shrewsbury, who this year celebrated their 25th anniversary together, and have two daughters; Elena and Liz Quinones, 33 and 45 respectively, of Phillipsburg, who are raising four children and have been together for nine years.



In 2002, Lambda Legal filed a historic case, Lewis v. Harris, seeking marriage equality on behalf of seven New Jersey couples. The case reached the New Jersey Supreme Court in 2006. The high court ruled unanimously that same-sex couples must be provided all the benefits and responsibilities of marriage, although it declined to mandate that marriage was specifically required, and gave the state legislature 180 days to provide equality. The legislature hastily passed a civil union law in December 2006, and began issuing civil union licenses to lesbian and gay couples in February 2007.
In December 2008 the Civil Union Review Commission, appointed by the legislature pursuant to the Civil Union Act itself, issued its unanimous final report documenting how civil union falls short of providing the court-mandated equality for same-sex couples. In January 2010, days before the legislative session ended, the New Jersey Senate voted on and failed to pass a marriage equality law. On March 18, 2010, Lambda Legal filed a motion in aid of litigants' rights asking the New Jersey Supreme Court to intercede and order marriage to secure compliance with its original mandate of equality for the Lewis v. Harris plaintiffs, but in July 2010, the New Jersey Supreme Court denied the motion, requiring further proceedings to develop a record in Superior Court. 
Hayley Gorenberg, Deputy Legal Director, is handling this case for Lambda Legal. She is joined by co-counsel Lawrence S. Lustberg and Jonathan Manes of Gibbons, PC.

Contact Info

Lambda Legal Contact: Jonathan Adams C: 646-752-3251; E: 
Garden State Equality Contact: Steven Goldstein, C: 917-449-8918; 
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work. 
Garden State Equality is New Jersey's largest civil rights organization, winning 212 LGBT civil rights laws at the state, county and local levels - a national record. The laws include America's strongest and most inclusive laws to combat discrimination, hate crimes and school bullying, as well as America's strongest transgender equality law.