Lewis, et al. v. Harris, et al.

On May 3, 2010, the ACLU-NJ filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of numerous minority rights legal organizations and in support of same-sex couples' renewed challenge to their exclusion from marriage. In its earlier decision in this case, the Court mandated that the Legislature "provide to committed same-sex couples, on equal terms, the full rights and benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples," but suggested that the Legislature could do so by adopting civil unions. The plaintiffs' motion submits that because the Civil Union Act continues to perpetuate disparity in the rights of LGBT couples versus married heterosexual couples, the State has failed to meet the Court's mandate of equality. The ACLU-NJ brief explains that even when courts have allowed legislatures to enact separate systems of rights for minorities in the past, courts have always struck down those systems when they are shown to perpetuate disparities. Moreover, the ACLU-NJ explains that a history of excluding a minority group from access to rights is not in itself a public interest that can justify continued exclusionary practices.

The other signatories to the brief submitted by the ACLU-NJ are: the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Asian-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Garden State Bar Association, the Hispanic Bar Association, Legal Momentum, and the National Organization for Women of New Jersey.

On July 26, 2010, the New Jersey Supreme Court denied the motion in a 3-3 vote. The ruling means that proponents of marriage equality will have to begin a new lawsuit in the trial court challenging the disparities between civil unions and full marriage.

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