American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

States to Watch: New Jersey

AFER is making the case for full federal marriage equality before the U.S. Supreme Court this spring, but there are several states which may see movement before a June 2013 decision. See more states to watch >

The road to marriage in New Jersey has been rocky, but there’s no mistaking the progress that the state has made over the last few years. Now, the Garden State is poised to finally make the plunge with a very busy year ahead for marriage equality.

For now, all eyes are on the legislature, which has until 2014 to gather enough votes to override Governor Chris Christie’s veto of marriage equality legislation that was passed last year. Some organizers have expressed confidence that the support is there, and all that’s needed is some intense lobbying to shore up those votes.

But other organizers are hedging their bets, and have started the process of bringing the issue to voters. Assemblymember Reed Gusciora, who engineered last year’s marriage equality bill in the legislature, wants to put marriage on the ballot.

He wasn’t always an advocate for the ballot. In past years, he strongly opposed putting fundamental freedoms to a popular vote. Gusciora’s turnaround hasn’t been popular with his colleagues. Garden State Equality, Freedom to Marry, and the Human Rights campaign joined with Senate President Stephen Sweeney in condemning the strategy.

Now marriage equality in the state has turned into something of a race. Which strategy will reach its goal first: the legislative approach, or the electoral approach?

And of course, if neither is successful, there’s still a pending lawsuit. Lambda Legal has sued state officials, arguing that the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution requires no less than full marriage equality.