TRENTON, NJ, October 18, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) –The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled on Friday afternoon that gay “marriages” would commence in the Garden State on October 21 – more than two months before the court decides whether the marriages are valid.
When the State Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that the state must furnish homosexual couples with legal affirmation and state benefits, legislators instituted civil unions. Now liberal judges are saying that's not enough.
Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson ruled on September 27 that New Jersey must authorize same-sex marriages beginning on October 21. Governor Chris Christie appealed to the Supreme Court and asked for a stay until after it decided the matter.
Friday, the state's highest court said it would not begin oral arguments on the case until approximately January 6 – the Christian holiday of Epiphany – but ordered county officials to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples on October 21 anyway.
“The State has advanced a number of arguments, but none of them overcome this reality: same-sex couples who cannot marry are not treated equally under the law today,” Chief Justice Stuart Rabner wrote in the decision. “The harm to them is real, not abstract or speculative.”
The state's pro-family movement was outraged by the decision.
“By allowing same-sex marriage licenses to go forward before the legal question is even argued, the New Jersey Supreme Court has dropped all pretense of impartiality,” New Jersey Family Policy Council Founder and President Len Deo said. “This is a breach of public confidence that I’m not sure they will be able to repair.”
“This is a sad day for the rule of law in New Jersey,” Deo said. “We are no longer ruled by freely elected representatives but by a judicial oligarchy.”
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Defenders of marriage say the court's rationale is flawed from beginning to end. Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Center, said, “The legislature complied fully with the New Jersey Supreme Court's order in 2006 to grant rights and benefits equivalent to marriage under state law by adopting civil unions. For that same Court to now suggest its own remedy was inadequate is irrational.”
Nonetheless, homosexual activists amplified the alleged damage inflicted by the current legal arrangement. Steven Goldstein, the former head of the homosexual lobby group Garden State Equality, likened New Jersey's marriage protection law to the “Berlin Wall.”
Sprigg also rapped the instruction for county clerks to issue marriage licenses that could conceivably be invalidated. “Surely creating the possibility that same-sex 'marriage' would be extended and then once again withdrawn constitutes a greater possible harm” than waiting for a court ruling, he said.
Judge Jacobson's decision specifically cited the U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as her basis for inventing gay “marriage” in New Jersey. However, the High Court's decision specifically left it up to the states to define marriage for themselves.
“The [state] court claims that its position is based on the U.S. Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor,” Sprigg said shortly after the ruling. “To take a decision mandating respect for state choices on marriage, and interpret it as overturning that state choice instead, turns logic and the law on its head.”
Deo agreed, under the ruling, “it’s the federal government that has declared [homosexual couples] eligible for benefits in states that have made provision for same-sex marriage. Therefore, it’s the federal government’s job to recognize the arrangements New Jersey has created for the benefit of same-sex couples – but that is not what is happening here.”
Governor Christie has stated he will comply with the order. His spokesman Michael Drewniak told the media that, though “the governor firmly believes that this determination should be made by all the people of the State of New Jersey” through a statewide referendum, his boss “has instructed the Department of Health to cooperate with all municipalities in effectuating the order.”
The legislature passed a bill to redefine marriage, but Christie vetoed it. State legislators have threatened to override but still lack the votes, coming up 12 votes short in the House and three in the Senate. They have until January 14 to overturn his decision.
As homosexual “rights” are codified in law, the threat to Christians' religious liberty increases. Last year a judge ruled against the owners of Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a seaside resort associated with the United Methodist church, after they declined Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster’s request to rent its Boardwalk Pavilion for a lesbian civil union ceremony.
Judge Solomon A. Metzger ruled that the Constitution allows “some intrusion into religious freedom to balance other important societal goals.”
Critics say judges are running roughshod over Christians' rights in the name of affirming the one-to-three percent of the population that is homosexual.
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said, “All in all, today’s ruling is another sad chapter in watching our courts usurp the rights of voters to determine issues like this for themselves.”