SENATE, No. 3416

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

219th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 9, 2021

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator† STEPHEN M. SWEENEY

District 3 (Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem)

Senator† LORETTA WEINBERG

District 37 (Bergen)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Senator Lagana

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

†††† Codifies same-sex marriage in the statutes.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

†††† As introduced.

††


An Act concerning marriage, amending R.S.37:1-1, repealing section 94 of P.L.2006, c.103, and supplementing Title 37 of the Revised Statutes.

 

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

 

†††† 1.††† (New section) †The Legislature finds and declares:

†††† a.†††† On September 27, 2013, Hon. Mary C. Jacobson, A.J.S.C. ruled in Garden State Equality v. Dow, 434 N.J. Super. 163 (Law Div. 2013) that New Jersey's exclusion of same-sex couples from civil marriage violated the equal protection guarantee of the New Jersey Constitution.† The New Jersey Supreme Court declined to issue a stay of the lower courtís order. Same-sex couples have been getting married in New Jersey since October 18, 2013, the day the State withdrew its appeal in the case.

†††† b.††† Seven years before Garden State Equality, the New Jersey Supreme Court had ruled unanimously in Lewis v. Harris, 188 N.J. 415 (2006) that same-sex couples are entitled to all of the rights, privileges, and obligations of marriage as opposite-sex couples.† In response to the Lewis v. Harris decision, the Legislature enacted P.L.2006, c.103 (C.37:1-28 et al.), which established same-sex civil unions in New Jersey.

†††† c.†††† The New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission created by the Legislature concluded in 2008, after significant public hearings and discussion, that same-sex civil unions provided unequal treatment to same-sex couples in the State.† In addition, under federal law, same-sex civil union couples did not have access to federal benefits available to married couples.

†††† d.††† Section 2 of P.L.††† , c.††† , amending N.J.S.37:1-1 (pending before the Legislature as section 2 of this bill) is intended to bring New Jersey statutory law into conformance with the 2013 decision in Garden State Equality as well as the 2015 United States Supreme Court decision in Obergefell et al. v. Hodges, Director, Ohio Department of Health, et al., 576 U.S. 644 (2015). Obergefell held that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right and that all states are required to allow same-sex couples to marry.

†††† e.†††† This Legislature, in recognition of the New Jersey Supreme Court's unanimous holding in Lewis v. Harris; the New Jersey Superior Courtís ruling in Garden State Equality v. Dow; and the United States Supreme Courtís decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, and recognizing that New Jersey same-sex couples' right to marry has never been codified and made more secure by the enactment of a statute, finds that it is necessary to enact this legislation.

†††† 2.††† R.S.37:1-1 is amended to read as follows:

†††† 37:1-1.† [Certain marriages] Marriages [or] and civil unions [prohibited].

†††† a.†††† [A man shall not marry or enter into a civil union with any of his ancestors or descendants, or his sister or brother, or the daughter or son of his brother or sister, or the sister or brother of his father or mother, whether such collateral kindred be of the whole or half blood.] (Deleted by amendment, P.L.††† , c.††† ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill)

†††† b.††† [A woman shall not marry or enter into a civil union with any of her ancestors or descendants, or her sister or brother, or the daughter or son of her brother or sister, or the sister or brother of her father or mother, whether such collateral kindred be of the whole or half blood.] (Deleted by amendment, P.L.††† , c.††† ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill)

†††† c.†††† Laws concerning marriage and civil union shall be read with gender neutral intent.

†††† d.††† No person shall marry or enter into a civil union with any of the personís ancestors or descendants, or the personís sister or brother, or the daughter or son of the personís brother or sister, or the sister or brother of the personís father or mother, whether such collateral kindred be of the whole or half blood.

†††† e.†††† A marriage or civil union in violation of any of the foregoing provisions shall be absolutely void.

(cf: P.L.2006, c.103, s.6)

 

†††† 3.††† Section 94 of P.L.2006, c.103 (C.37:1-36) is repealed.

 

†††† 4.††† This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

†††† This bill would codify same-sex marriage in the statutes. Same-sex marriage has been authorized in New Jersey by judicial decision since 2013.

†††† On September 27, 2013, Hon. Mary C. Jacobson, A.J.S.C. ruled in Garden State Equality v. Dow, 434 N.J. Super. 163 (Law Div. 2013) that New Jersey's exclusion of same-sex couples from civil marriage violated the equal protection guarantee of the New Jersey Constitution.† The New Jersey Supreme Court declined to issue a stay of the lower courtís order. Same-sex couples have been getting married in New Jersey since October 18, 2013, the day the State withdrew its appeal in the case.

†††† Seven years before Garden State Equality, the New Jersey Supreme Court had ruled unanimously in Lewis v. Harris, 188 N.J. 415 (2006) that same-sex couples are entitled to all of the rights, privileges, and obligations of marriage as opposite-sex couples.† In response to the Lewis v. Harris decision, the Legislature enacted P.L.2006, c.103 (C.37:1-28 et al.), which established same-sex civil unions in New Jersey.

†††† The New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission created by the Legislature concluded in 2008, after significant public hearings and discussion, that same-sex civil unions provided unequal treatment to same-sex couples in the State.† In addition, under federal law, same-sex civil union couples did not have access to federal benefits available to married couples.

†††† This bill is intended to bring New Jersey statutory law into conformance with the 2013 decision in Garden State Equality as well as the 2015 United States Supreme Court decision in Obergefell et al. v. Hodges, Director, Ohio Department of Health, et al., 576 U.S. 644 (2015). Obergefell held that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right and that all states are required to allow same-sex couples to marry.

†††† The bill also repeals section 94 of P.L.2006, c.103 (C.37:1-36), which established the New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission.† Pursuant to that statute, the commission has expired.