Lambda Legal plans court action after legislature leaves New Jersey Supreme Court decision on marriage equality unfulfilled.
On January 7, 2010, Lambda Legal announced plans to return to court after the New Jersey Senate failed to pass a marriage bill, effectively ending any hope for further action this session.
Lambda Legal’s historic marriage case, Lewis v. Harris, resulted in victory in 2006 when the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of equality for same-sex couples.
But the Court directed the legislature to address the inequality — leading to New Jersey’s hastily passed civil union law.
In December 2008 the NJ Civil Union Review Commission, appointed by the legislature, issued a report documenting how civil unions are a failure that fall short of the court-mandated equal treatment for same-sex couples.
When Lewis v. Harris was decided, two other states, Connecticut and Vermont, had civil union laws. Since then both states have thrown over those laws as unequal — one by court action and the other by legislative action — giving same-sex couples the right to marry there. Same-sex couples can also marry in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Iowa. The City Council in the District of Columbia recently passed a marriage equality measure which was signed by the mayor and will likely go into effect in March.
Lambda Legal represented seven plaintiff couples in the New Jersey marriage equality lawsuit that started in 2002. Since that time, one of the plaintiffs has died, and all the others keep fighting for equality.