A New Jersey State Superior Court Judge has denied the state’s request for a stay of an order allowing same sex couples to enter into civil marriage starting on October 21, 2013, a blow to Governor Chris Christie’s bid to appeal an earlier ruling that allowed same sex marriage, the motion was denied on October 10, 2013, by Judge Mary C Jacobson.
The effect of the ruling on the race for Governor will be interesting to watch for but I would not expect it to have much effect either way since Christie has clearly opposed same sex marriage while challenger Senator Barbara Buono has championed the issue and endorses same sex marriage.
In her ruling Jacobson rejected the states contention that allowing the law to proceed while waiting on an appeal ruling would cause the state irreparable harm. Jacobson wrote in her opinion that “in making this argument, the state ignores the largely abstract nature of the harm it alleges, pales in comparison to the concrete harm caused to the plaintiff’s by their ineligibility for many federal marital benefits and the significant litigation burden they would have to shoulder to challenge federal denial of marital benefits to civil union couples.”
“Notably however, many other federal courts have recognized that there can be no irreparable harm to a government when it is prevented from enforcing an unconstitutional statue because it is always in the public interest to protect constitutional liberties.”
Jacobson also rejected the states argument “that it will suffer irreparable harm if even a handful of marriage licenses are given out to same sex couples because it is virtually impossible to un- do that action at a later date. The state has not explained exactly how allowing some same sex couples to marry to assure them access to equal rights pending appellate review would cause any harm to the state, nor why any eventual deprivation of that right would be ineffectual should it be ordered by an appellate court. On the contrary, the California experience teaches that marriage can be extended to same sex couples in a state and then removed without dire consequences to the state.”
Jacobson summed up the denial of the motion by stating that “in short, the state has demonstrated neither that the law upon which it relies is settled, nor a likelihood of success on appeal.