Bernstein & Paster et al. v. Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association

On December 29, 2008, the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, Division on Civil Rights, issued a "finding of probable cause" that the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association violated the state's anti-discrimination law by denying our clients the right to hold their civil union ceremony at a Boardwalk pavilion in Monmouth County. The ACLU-NJ represents Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster, both residents of the Ocean Grove section of Neptune Township, who had planned to hold a civil union ceremony at the pavilion shortly after civil unions became available in 2007. The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a private body responsible for granting applications to use the site, denied their application, claiming that civil unions violated the group's Methodist principles. The Division on Civil Rights ruled that the Camp Meeting Association was not entitled to an exemption to New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination because use of the property was both commercial and publicly advertised, and because the Camp Meeting Association agreed to make the pavilion available for public use in order to obtain a state tax break. On January 12, 2012 the Administrative Law Judge ruled that the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association violated the Law Against Discrimination when the organization refused to allow Harriet Bernstein and Louisa Paster the use of the Boardwalk Pavillion for their Civil Union Ceremony. In the fall of 2012 the Director of the Division of Civil Rights affirmed the Administrative Law Ruling.

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