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Sounding off
on New Jersey's same-sex marriage ruling

Sounding off
on New Jersey's same-sex marriage ruling


The New Jersey supreme court's decision Wednesday to give gay couples all the rights of marriage save for the title, which the justices left for the legislature to decide, set off a flurry of opinion by a variety of sources, including Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry.

On Wednesday the New Jersey supreme court handed down its eagerly awaited same-sex marriage ruling, deciding 4-3 that gay couples should have the same rights, benefits, and obligations as married couples. However, the court punted the question of what to call such legal status to the state legislature, which has 180 days (and counting) to figure out whether gay couples will be allowed to marry or if they will have to settle for forming civil unions. Starting with salient quotations from the court's majority and minority opinions, The Advocate rounded up some sound bites of reaction.

"Although we cannot find that a fundamental right to same-sex marriage exists in this state, the unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our state Constitution." --Justice Barry T. Albin, writing for the court majority"Ultimately, the message is that what same-sex couples have is not as important or significant as 'real' marriage, that such lesser relationships cannot have the name of marriage." --former chief justice Deborah T. Poritz, writing for the minority"The words the court said, that we were denied our equality, is music to our ears, because it's what we've been living. And it's wonderful to have that recognized." --Cindy Meneghin, plaintiff"It's a win. We would have liked marriage tomorrow, but this is great progress." --Susan L. Sommer, a Lambda Legal attorney on the case"This makes sense as statesmanship. The word marriage seems to push people's buttons in a major way." --Andrew Koppelman, Northwestern University law professor"I applaud the court's courage. I regret not having had the fortitude to embrace this right during my tenure as governor." --James McGreevey, former New Jersey governor

"So help us God, New Jersey's LGBTI community and our millions of straight allies will settle for nothing less than 100% marriage equality." --Steven Goldstein, Garden State Equality chair"I don't think there is an American in the country who would cash in their marriage in exchange for a civil union." --Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry"We hope that the legislature hears us and hears all of the gays and lesbians around this state that we want marriage." --Colleen O'Connell, supporter of same-sex marriage"New Jersey is a progressive state and has a tradition of tolerance." --Reed Gusciora, Democratic New Jersey assemblyman

"Neither the framers of New Jersey's 1947 constitution, nor the voters who ratified it, ever remotely contemplated the possibility of same-sex marriage." --Richard Merkt, Republican New Jersey assemblyman, who has threatened to impeach the seven justices

"Marriage has been a religious institution adopted by the government, and a lot of religions have defined it in a way that that excludes gays. That's not what the government does, and the court clearly demands that we offer gay couples the same rights and obligations that heterosexual couples have under our marriage laws. But we can do it in a way that respects people's religious beliefs." --Raymond J. Lesniak,DemocraticNew Jersey state senator"This is manna from heaven for Republicans. It puts a social issue that really helps Republicans at the top of the agenda in the final days of the election. Republicans must have prayed for this." --Larry Sabato, University of Virginia political science professor"The court subverted the constitution, and they subverted the definition of marriage. We are opposed to undermining the traditional definition of marriage by just giving it a different label." --John Tomicki, executive director of the League of American Families"It is now up to the New Jersey state legislature to implement the court's decision and to make the right to marry a reality for same sex couples. New York State's legislature must also act to address this injustice in New York, so that all citizens are treated equally on both sides of the Hudson River." --Christine Quinn, New York City council speaker(Sources: Associated Press, The New York Times,The(Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger,Toronto Daily News,

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