The New Jersey Supreme Court has agreed to hear Garden State Equality v. Dow, a challenge to the state’s limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples. The trial court recently held the law unconstitutional on the grounds that after United States v. Windsor federal benefits remain unavailable to same-sex couples in civil unions, denying them full equality. All briefing will be completed by December 3 and the oral argument will be heard in early January. The court has not yet decided whether to grant a stay of the trial judge’s decision allowing same-sex marriages to begin on October 21.
In any event, my expectation is that gay marriage will be legal in New Jersey within six months. The only question is whether that will occur by judicial decision or because supporters manage to get enough votes in the state legislature to override Governor Christie’s veto of a gay marriage bill. The court’s speedy consideration of the issue is probably a good sign for Garden State Equality’s litigation, but may somewhat reduce the likelihood of legislative action.