NJ campaign mounts final push to legalize same-sex marriage

Equality Forum 2013
A measure that would have legalized same-sex marriage was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie last year. Credit: Rikard Larma/Metro

The New Jersey United for Marriage campaign kicked off Wednesday with a launch rally on the boardwalk in Asbury Park in the hopes of mounting one last push for the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state.

The coalition, which advocates for marriage equality for all New Jersey residents, is comprised of Garden State Equality, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, the American Unity Fund, Freedom to Marry, the Gill Action Fund, the Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal.

“Today’s announcement is a game-changer,” Garden State Equality executive director Troy Stevenson said in a statement.

“Over the past decade, Garden State Equality has moved public opinion from minority to majority support for marriage. With over 60 percent of New Jerseyans supporting marriage equality, we are in the last leg of a marathon race and are inviting everyone to run the last mile with us.”

Modeled after successful efforts in New York, Rhode Island, Maryland and Maine, the campaign will broaden the existing coalition of supporters to engage new stakeholders, including small business owners, large corporate employers, industry organizations and Republicans.

“Today, we are proud to stand with our state and national partners to bring marriage equality over the finish line,” ACLU of New Jersey executive director Udi Ofer said in a statement.

“The striking down of DOMA by the Supreme Court changed the landscape for marriage equality, and New Jersey is now the epicenter of the next big fight.”

New Jersey in 2003 passed domestic partnerships and in 2006 legalized civil unions.

But though the New Jersey Marriage and Religious Exemptions Act, which would have legalized same-sex marriage, in February 2012 passed the state Senate and House of Representatives, it was shortly vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie.

New Jersey United for Marriage seeks a veto override by early next January.

“The inequality between New Jersey and our neighbors, like New York and Delaware, is now more pronounced than ever,” Ofer said.

“With DOMA struck down, the term ‘civil union’ is preventing New Jersey’s LGBT couples from being eligible for hundreds of federal benefits, such as Social Security, tax and medical benefits. New Jersey’s separate and unequal civil union system must end, and New Jersey’s LGBT couples must be treated with the same dignity and respect as all other couples.”



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