Soulforce Urges the New Jersey State Legislature to End Discrimination in Marriage

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The New Jersey Supreme court has ruled that same-sex couples must be afforded "the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples." The ruling gives the New Jersey legislature 180 days to amend the marriage statutes to include same-sex couples or "create a separate statutory structure" for same-sex couples. The LGBT social justice organization Soulforce urges the legislature to act definitively to end discrimination by extending civil marriage to same-sex couples.

In a momentous decision yesterday, the New Jersey Supreme court ruled that "committed same-sex couples must be afforded on equal terms the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples." While the court unanimously affirmed gay and lesbian couples' constitutional right to equal protection, a majority opinion left it to the New Jersey state legislature to decide whether same-sex relationships will be recognized by the name of marriage.

Writing for the majority, Justice Barry T. Albin affirmed the state's interest in providing full civil rights for gay and lesbian couples, arguing that "to the extent that families are strengthened by encouraging monogamous relationships, whether heterosexual or homosexual, the Court cannot discern a public need that would justify the legal disabilities that now afflict same-sex domestic partnerships."

"The New Jersey court's opinion belies the distorted reasoning that would frame protecting gay and lesbian families as a threat to the moral fabric of American society. In recognizing the equal needs and rights of same-sex couples and their children, this decision gives hope to all gay and lesbian Americans," said Paige Schilt, Soulforce Media Director.

The ruling gave the New Jersey legislature 180 days to "amend the marriage statutes" to include same-sex couples or "create a separate statutory structure."

"As the New Jersey legislature responds to the court's ruling, Soulforce hopes that they will learn from the painful lessons of American history," Schilt continued. "A 'separate but equal' system of rights is inherently unequal, and the legislature should act boldly to end discrimination in marriage."

Soulforce's purpose is freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance. For more information go to http://www.soulforce.org.

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PAIGE SCHILT

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