And like that, it was over. As I noted in my post on this blog earlier this morning, same sex marriages in New Jersey were starting today and the arena of that litigation was changing quickly. Well, as reported by the New York Daily News less than an hour ago, Governor Christie has withdrawn the State’s appeal in Garden State Equality v. Dow. As a result, same sex couples can marry without the fear that their marriage licenses will be nullified.
And with that, much to the delight of those who supported marriage equality in New Jersey, the litigation is over. But is that the end of the issue? Clearly, the Governor was not in agreement with the Supreme Court’s ruling but seemingly gave up a battle that he did not believe he could win. As noted by the Daily News:
Christie’s administration said he strongly disagrees with the court substituting “its judgment for the constitutional process of the elected branches or a vote of the people.” But he said Friday’s ruling showed the Supreme Court was clearly going to favor same-sex marriage and that he has a constitutional duty to enforce the law.
So the litigation that came in with a bang, has gone out with a whimper. But what’s next? Will the legistlature still try to override the Governor’s veto of the same sex marriage bill? This seems likely.
And what of existing civil unions and domestic partnerships if they do? When the civil union law was enacted to confer greater rights than under the domestic partnership law, there was a notice sent to all people that had registered their domestic partnership giving them the opportunity to convert their domestic partnership into a civil union. Will the same thing occur now, i.e. will someone’s marriage be deemed retroactive to the date that the civil union was registered?
In any event, today’s events mark the end of a chapter of sorts evidencing a sea change, both in New Jersey and nationally. New Jersey is now the fourteenth state that sanctions same sex marriage.
Eric Solotoff is the editor of the New Jersey Family Legal Blog and the Co-Chair of the Family Law Practice Group of Fox Rothschild LLP. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Lawyer and a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Attorneys, Eric is resident in Fox Rothschild’s Roseland and Morristown, New Jersey offices, though he practices throughout New Jersey. You can reach Eric at (973)994-7501, or email@example.com.