Gay group to ask N.J. supreme court for same-sex marriage ruling

The gay rights group pushing to make same-sex marriages legal in New Jersey will ask the state supreme court to consider the issue. Lambda Legal officials said Tuesday they would file papers seeking a ruling from the state's highest court on a lawsuit brought on behalf of seven same-sex couples. A superior court judge ruled last fall against legalizing gay marriage.

The appeal papers filed by Lambda include comments regarding New Jersey's new domestic-partnership law, which took effect this summer. That law grants some legal rights to same-sex partners, such as the ability to make medical decisions for each other. "The domestic-partnership law is an important start, but it falls far short of marriage," said David Buckel, director of Lambda's Marriage Project. "Lesbian
and gay couples in New Jersey won't have equal protections and security until they can get married, and that's what we're seeking."

The attorney general's Office has defended the state's ban on same-sex marriage, saying that New Jersey's constitution does not permit gay unions and that the power to change the definition of marriage rests with the legislature, not the courts. "The equal protection challenge to New Jersey's marriage statutes will ultimately be decided by the supreme court," said Atty. Gen. Peter C.
Harvey. "We believe an earlier solution to this matter is in the best interest of the public. We continue to believe that our state legislature should define marriage."

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