(TRENTON) – Recognizing the shift in the balance of the U.S. Supreme Court, Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Mila Jasey, Annette Quijano, Andrew Zwicker and Joann Downey on Monday introduced legislation to safeguard the right to marry for LGBTQ couples in New Jersey.
Throughout the country, LGBTQ couples are concerned that their marriages could be invalidated or that future couples may lose their right to marry if the Supreme Court reverses the landmark decision Obergefell v. Hodges.
This legislation (A-5367) would codify the right of LGBTQ couples to marry into New Jersey law.
“In 2012, I was proud to be a prime sponsor of New Jersey’s Marriage Equality Act. Following Governor Christie’s veto, advocates continued the fight to the New Jersey Supreme Court, where they were finally successful in legalizing same-sex marriage,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “At the time, I received considerable backlash for my support of the LGBTQ community, as did many of my colleagues. I was right on this issue eight years ago and I am proud to once again be leading the charge to ensure that the rights of the LGBTQ community are safeguarded.”
“Marriage equality is a fundamental right and a human right that I have long championed. It was the first bill that I was a prime sponsor of when I joined the Assembly in 2007,” said Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Essex, Morris). “As Justice Kennedy so eloquently observed in Obergefell, ‘No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were.’ Today, I recommit to guaranteeing that one of ‘civilization’s oldest institutions’ is forever enshrined in statute for all who desire to embark upon the commitment above all others.”
“It is critical that the Legislature take action on this bill in order to preserve marriage equality in New Jersey,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union). “We must remain committed to our friends in the Garden State’s LGBTQ community and do all we can to ensure same-sex couples have equal rights under the law which includes marriage. We have a responsibility to codify marriage equality rights in statute and I am proud to play a role in making that a reality.”
“In 2013, I was ecstatic and grateful that the Court ruled that New Jersey must recognize same-sex marriage. Today, I am proud to stand in solidarity with everyone who fought the good fight for a right that couples should have always had: the right for someone to marry who they love. It is important for State law to forever enshrine the legality of marriage equality,” said Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker (D- Somerset, Mercer, Middlesex, Hunterdon). “Same-sex couples deserve this legislation affording them equality before the law irrespective of their sexual identity or gender expression.”
“It is so important to enact this legislation because through all the work New Jersey has done to make same-sex marriage legal, we recognize the Garden State has never codified same-sex couples’ right to marry. We need to make this right for the LGBTQ community more secure by the enactment of a statute,” said Assemblywoman Joann Downey (D-Monmouth). “This legislation is just one more step to show we continue to stand strong against discrimination and prejudice, and we seek to create a New Jersey that is inclusive and unified for all people.”
Thomas Prol, Garden State Equality Action Fund Board Member applauded the introduction of the legislation. “Over the past decade and a half, we have meandered through protests, Domestic Partnerships, litigation, Civil Unions, statewide hearings, State Supreme Court motion practice, more state litigation, even more federal litigation, a SCOTUS decision and, eventually, a state trial court ruling for marriage equality,” he said. “In fact, in that timeframe, New Jersey’s effort to address the inequality visited on same-sex couples and their families has charted a most inefficient course through all three branches of government. That is all about to change as we are finally getting to the ‘simple solution’ of marriage equality.”