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New Jersey attorney general Stuart Rabner has issued an opinion stating that any state official performing marriage ceremonies must also now perform civil union ceremonies for same-sex couples. The opinion comes in light of a state superior court decision and subsequent legislation earlier this month giving gay couples the right to enter into civil unions beginning January 1.
"Either do marriages and civil unions, or do nothing," states John M. Carbone, an attorney representing county clerks and surrogates in all 21 New Jersey counties, in an internal memo obtained Wednesday by New Jersey's Bridgeton News.
The letter states that officials who perform marriage ceremonies but refuse to perform civil union ceremonies will be violating the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination. This could result in removal from office as well as fines beginning at $10,000 for the first offense.
In a survey conducted last week by the News asking local mayors whether they would perform a civil union ceremony, only Fairfield Township mayor Craig Thomas said he would. Most other mayors would rather do nothing, saying their Christian beliefs prohibit them from endorsing same-sex relationships. (The Advocate)