ASSEMBLY, No. 4566

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED DECEMBER 16, 2013

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  REED GUSCIORA

District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)

Assemblyman  TIMOTHY J. EUSTACE

District 38 (Bergen and Passaic)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     The “Civil Union Status Clarification Act.”

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning civil unions and supplementing Title 37 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Civil Union Status Clarification Act.”

 

     2.  The Legislature finds and declares that:

     a. Civil unions were established by the Legislature by P.L.2006, c.103 (C.37:1-28 et al.) in response to the 2006 decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court in Lewis v. Harris, 188 N.J. 415 (2006).

     b. Pursuant to court orders issued in Garden State Equality v. Dow, Docket No. L-1729-11, 2013 N.J. Super. LEXIS 169, same-sex couples have been obtaining marriage licenses in New Jersey since October 21, 2013. 

     c.  The court decisions and orders in Garden State Equality v. Dow did not address the civil union enactment or the legal implications of those court decisions and orders for couples who already had obtained civil union status.

     d. Couples who have previously entered into civil unions require clarification of the practical and legal implications of their existing civil union statuses following the court decisions and orders.

     e. It is the intent of the Legislature to allow couples who entered into civil unions prior to the effective date of P.L.    , c.     (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) to maintain their current status if they so choose.

     f. It is the intent of the Legislature to maintain the applicability of the civil union enactment only to couples who obtained New Jersey civil union status prior to the effective date of P.L.  , c. (C.   ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) and to couples who obtain or have obtained the equivalent of civil union status in another jurisdiction regardless of the date such legal status was or is entered into.

     g. It is the intent of the Legislature to further clarify the legal implications of existing civil unions as set forth in P.L.  , c. (C.      ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     h. It is the intent of the Legislature to recognize same-sex marriages entered into in New Jersey and outside this State.

 

     3. On and after the effective date of P.L.    , c. (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), no new civil unions shall be established under P.L.2006, c.103 (C.37:1-28 et al.).

 

     4. Parties to an existing civil union who obtain a marriage license shall not be required to pay a fee for such license or be subject to the 72-hour waiting period required under R.S.37:1-4. By operation of law, parties to a civil union or to the equivalent of a civil union entered into in another jurisdiction who subsequently enter into a marriage between the same parties shall, after the solemnization of the marriage and upon the filing of the marriage license and certificate of marriage with the appropriate municipal clerk, be deemed to be married as of the date of the parties’ civil union or of the civil union equivalent from another jurisdiction. Persons may at any time obtain a marriage certificate with the date of the marriage amended to the date of the civil union or of the civil union equivalent from another jurisdiction, by providing proof of the date of entry into the civil union or into the civil union equivalent from another jurisdiction to the municipal clerk where the marriage license was filed. 

     Nothing in P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall be deemed to invalidate agreed-upon terms of a prenuptial agreement pursuant to R.S.37:2-31 et seq., or preclude persons from seeking or obtaining any equitable relief otherwise available to them in seeking a divorce or separate maintenance.

 

     5. Parties who obtained their relationship status in New Jersey but are unable to dissolve their relationship status in their current states of residency shall not be subject to the residency requirements of N.J.S.2A:34-8 through N.J.S.2A:34-10 for purposes of obtaining an order of dissolution of their status.  This section does not affect residency requirements for adjudicating issues of alimony, support, maintenance, equitable distribution or any matter concerning children of the parties not resident in New Jersey.

 

     6. “Marriage” means the legally recognized union of two consenting persons in a committed relationship. Whenever the term “marriage” occurs or the term “man,” “woman,” “husband” or “wife” occurs in the context of marriage or any reference is made thereto in any law, statute, rule, regulation or order, the same shall be deemed to mean or refer to the union of two persons pursuant to this section.

 

      7. A marriage of two persons of the same sex entered into outside this State which is valid under the laws of the jurisdiction in which the marriage was entered shall be valid in this State. 

 

     8. The Commissioner of Health, pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), shall adopt rules and regulations to effectuate the purposes of this act.

 

     9. This act shall take effect on the 60th day following enactment, except that the Commissioner of Health may take such anticipatory administrative action in advance as shall be necessary for the implementation of this act.

STATEMENT

 

     This bill, titled the “Civil Union Status Clarification Act,” would clarify the status of couples who have entered into civil unions in light of the recent court decisions concerning same-sex marriage. 

Findings and Declarations

     The findings and declarations section of the bill provides that:

     a. Civil unions were established by the Legislature by P.L.2006, c.103 (C.37:1-28 et al.) in response to the 2006 decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court in Lewis v. Harris, 188 N.J. 415 (2006).

     b. Pursuant to court orders issued in Garden State Equality v. Dow, Docket No. L-1729-11, 2013 N.J. Super. LEXIS 169, same-sex couples have been obtaining marriage licenses in New Jersey since October 21, 2013. 

     c.  The court decisions and orders in Garden State Equality v. Dow did not address the civil union enactment or the legal implication of those court decisions and orders for couples who already had obtained civil union status.

     d. Couples who have previously entered into civil unions require clarification of the practical and legal implications of their existing civil union statuses following the court decisions and orders.

     e. It is the intent of the Legislature to allow couples who entered into civil unions prior to the effective date of P.L.    , c.     (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) to maintain their current status if they so choose.

     f. It is the intent of the Legislature to maintain the applicability of the civil union enactment only to couples who obtained New Jersey civil union status prior to the effective date of P.L.   , c. (C.  ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) and to couples who obtain or have obtained the equivalent of civil union status in another jurisdiction regardless of the date such legal status was or is entered into.

     g. It is the intent of the Legislature to further clarify the legal implications of existing civil unions as set forth in P.L.  , c. (C.     ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).

     h. It is the intent of the Legislature to recognize same-sex marriages entered into in New Jersey and outside this State.

Civil Unions

     The bill provides that on and after the effective date no new civil unions could be established under the civil union enactment.  Parties to an existing civil union who obtain a marriage license would not be required to pay a fee for such license or be subject to the usual 72-hour waiting period required under R.S.37:1-4.

     Under the bill, by operation of law, parties to a civil union or to the equivalent of a civil union entered into in another jurisdiction who subsequently enter into a marriage between the same parties shall, after the solemnization of the marriage and upon the filing of the marriage license and certificate of marriage with the appropriate municipal clerk, be deemed to be married as of the date of the parties’ civil union or of the civil union equivalent from another jurisdiction.  The bill allows persons at any time to obtain a marriage certificate with the date of the marriage amended to the date of the civil union or of the civil union equivalent from another jurisdiction, by providing proof of the date of entry into the civil union or into the civil union equivalent from another jurisdiction to the municipal clerk where the marriage license was filed. 

     The bill specifies that nothing in it shall be deemed to invalidate agreed-upon terms of a prenuptial agreement pursuant to R.S.37:2-31 et seq., or preclude persons from seeking or obtaining any equitable relief otherwise available to them in seeking a divorce or separate maintenance.

Dissolution

     Under the bill, parties who obtained their relationship status in New Jersey but are unable to dissolve their relationship status in their current states of residency would not be subject to the usual residency requirements for divorce and dissolution of a civil union.  This provision would not affect residency requirements for adjudicating issues of alimony, support, maintenance, equitable distribution or any matter concerning children of the parties not resident in New Jersey.

Same-Sex Marriage

     The bill provides that “marriage” means the legally recognized union of two consenting persons in a committed relationship. Whenever the term “marriage” occurs or the term “man,” “woman,” “husband” or “wife” occurs in the context of marriage or any reference is made thereto in any law, statute, rule, regulation or order, the same would be deemed to mean or refer to the union of two persons pursuant to this provision.

      The bill also provides that a marriage of two persons of the same sex entered into outside this State which is valid under the laws of the jurisdiction in which the marriage was entered shall be valid in this State.