By Katherine Dean
The New Jersey Supreme Court today decided against hearing a case brought by six same-sex couples who argue that denying them the right to marry violates their civil rights. The court was split 3-3 on the issue, one vote short of the four needed for a motion to consider the case. The high court’s decision is the latest in a series of setbacks for gay marriage supporters. In 2006, when ruling that the same-sex couples in New Jersey are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples, the Supreme Court declared that it was up to the Legislature to determine how to provide those rights. Lawmakers responded with a bill allowing civil unions but not full marriage. Then in November of 2009, voters in the Garden State replaced democratic Governor Jon Corzine with Republican Chris Christie, who opposes same-sex marriage. The following January a gay marriage bill was defeated in the state Senate.
Proponents of marriage equality remain undeterred by today’s ruling. Steve Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality said, “We at Garden State Equality will never give up—not until our dying breath.” There is cause to remain hopeful that the New Jersey Supreme Court may reconsider the case some time in the future. In its decision, the court stated that in order to hear arguments on behalf of the same-sex couples, they would need an appropriate trial record to determine the “merits of the plaintiff’s allegations” and invited them to re-file their case in Superior Court with the expectation that it will eventually wind up back in the Supreme Court.
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