N.J. 'gay marriage' ruling could be only days away
TRENTON, N.J. (BP)--Attorneys on both sides of the issue believe the New Jersey Supreme Court could be only days away from issuing a much-anticipated "gay marriage" decision.
Speculation is rampant because under New Jersey law Chief Justice Deborah Poritz must retire on her 70th birthday, which is Thursday, Oct. 26. It has generally been thought she would want a decision handed down before she retires. But Len Deo, president of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, said the decision could be issued after Poritz retires and still include her vote.
The seven-member court could make New Jersey the second state in the nation to redefine marriage to include homosexuals. Such a ruling likely would have significant implications just days away from the Nov. 7 election -- particularly in the eight states considering constitutional marriage amendments. Or, the court could follow the lead of courts in New York and Washington state and uphold marriage laws, handing homosexual activists another legal defeat.
"In talking to the attorneys we've worked with over the past four years on this case since 2002, they said there's no rule of the court that mandates that a decision has to come down before she retires," Deo told Baptist Press.
Homosexual activists remain optimistic that the court will rule in their favor. In recent days several homosexual news websites ran stories about the pending decision, with one of them proclaiming, "New Jersey ruling could be blockbuster."
The New Jersey Supreme Court is the same one that in 1999 unanimously ruled that the Boy Scouts could not prevent homosexuals from becoming troop leaders. Poritz wrote the opinion. The decision was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
"[The ruling] could happen any day, and again it could also be dragged out until after the election," Deo said. "I think a lot of it is determined by the politics of the court, which means what is going on internally and has Chief Justice Poritz been able to assemble a majority to her favor, which we would believe would be to legalize same-sex marriage.... One can only speculate as to what is happening on the court right now."
Oral arguments in the case, Lewis v. Harris, were heard in February. The homosexual activist group Lambda Legal filed the suit in June 2002 on behalf of seven same-sex couples. They lost on both the trial court and appeals court levels before appealing to the New Jersey Supreme Court.
If the high court legalizes "gay marriage," Deo said his organization will "push for a state constitutional amendment to define marriage." New Jersey law does not permit amendments to originate through citizen petitions, so any amendment must come from the Democratic-controlled legislature. Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine already has said that while he believes marriage is between a man and a woman, he will abide by the court's ruling.
"If the supreme court rules that gay marriage is constitutional, the governor would not sign legislation to take away people's rights," Corzine spokesman Anthony Coley said, according to the Associated Press.
Massachusetts' highest court issued its decision more than two years ago legalizing "gay marriage" there.
Eight states will vote on marriage amendments in November: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.
The New Jersey Supreme Court posted a statement on its website Friday saying it does not expect to issue any decisions Monday.
For more information about the national debate over "gay marriage," visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage