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Lambda Legal vows to fight stay against N.J. same-gender marriages

TRENTON, N.J. -- Today, after New Jersey Attorney General Hoffman announced his plans to file papers seeking to stay last Friday's ruling by a New Jersey Superior Court allowing same-gender couples to marry, Lambda Legal said it would try to stop that motion.

"We'll fight the State's efforts to stay this decision. We're going to do everything we can to make sure same-sex couples can begin making plans to marry starting on the date set by the court - Oct 21st," said Hayley Gorenberg, Lambda Legal's deputy legal director.

"We will file our opposition on Friday and we'll be making the case that we are likely to win and any delay in allowing same-sex couples to marry is too great a hardship to allow a stay."

Background

In June 2011, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit seeking the freedom to marry, arguing that barring same-gender couples from marriage and relegating them to civil union violates both the New Jersey Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment of the federal Constitution.

This June, the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of DOMA, and Lambda Legal filed a motion for summary judgment in the New Jersey case, arguing that by barring marriage, the state of New Jersey denies same-gender couples the full range of federal benefits, rights, and protections available after the Windsor decision.

Last Friday, the New Jersey Superior Court ruled that same-gender couples in New Jersey must be allowed to marry. Unless it is stayed upon appeal, the decision takes effect on Oct. 21.

In 2002, Lambda Legal filed a historic case, Lewis v. Harris, seeking marriage equality on behalf of seven New Jersey couples. The case reached the New Jersey Supreme Court in 2006. The high court ruled unanimously that same-gender couples must be provided all the benefits and responsibilities of marriage, although it declined at that time to mandate that marriage was specifically required, and gave the state legislature 180 days to provide equality. The legislature hastily passed a civil union law in December 2006, and began issuing civil union licenses to lesbian and gay couples in February 2007. In both the 2002 Lewis case as well as the 2011 GSE case the Gibbons Firm has been a strong pro bono partner with Lambda Legal contributing to the fight for the freedom to marry in New Jersey.

Meet all the plaintiffs and their families HERE.

This case is Garden State Equality et al. v. Dow et al.

Hayley Gorenberg, deputy legal director, is handling this case for Lambda Legal. She is joined by co-counsel, Lawrence S. Lustberg of Gibbons, PC.