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When was gay marriage legalized in New Jersey?


Same-sex marriages were legally recognized in New Jersey on October 21, 2013. This landmark decision paved the way for same-sex couples in New Jersey to have equal marriage rights and benefits. The legalization of gay marriage was the result of a long and intense legal battle between pro-LGBTQ groups and conservative groups who opposed these unions.

A Timeline of Gay Marriage Legalization in New Jersey

1997: The Passage of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

In 1997, the Defense of Marriage Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. DOMA was a federal law that allowed states to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages that were legally performed in other states.

2002: Civil Union Act

11 years after DOMA was signed, in 2002, New Jersey passed the Civil Union Act, a law that gave same-sex couples in the state almost all the rights and responsibilities that heterosexual married couples had, but stopped short of full marriage equality. Although it was a step in the right direction, the law still didn’t grant LGBTQ couples the same level of marital recognition as heterosexual couples.

2006: Lewis v. Harris

In 2006, seven same-sex New Jersey couples filed a lawsuit that was known as Lewis v. Harris. The lawsuit sought marriage equality in New Jersey. In a split decision, the state Supreme Court ruled that gay couples were entitled to all the same legal rights and privileges as heterosexual couples under the state’s constitution, but it stopped short of legalizing same-sex marriage and gave the Legislature six months to decide how to remedy the unequal treatment of same-sex couples.

2007-2012: Continued Legal Battles and Political Maneuvering

From 2007 to 2012, lawmakers in New Jersey introduced various bills seeking to legalize gay marriage. The bills either stalled in the Legislature or were vetoed by then-Governor Chris Christie. However, the movement for equal marriage rights in the state continued to gain momentum.

2012: Garden State Equality v. Dow

In 2012, gay rights advocates filed a lawsuit known as Garden State Equality v. Dow, which argued that New Jersey’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages violated the federal constitution. In a landmark ruling, a New Jersey Superior Court judge found that same-sex couples were being denied important state and federal benefits and ordered that New Jersey grant them the right to marry. However, the ruling was put on hold while it was appealed in a higher court.

2013: The Final Decision

On September 27th, 2013, a New Jersey judge upheld the decision of the lower court in Garden State Equality v. Dow, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced that he would not appeal the ruling. Same-sex marriage became legal in New Jersey on October 21, 2013, affirming that New Jersey was the 14th state in the country to recognize same-gender marriage.


The fight for marriage equality in New Jersey was a long and hard-won battle. It was only after years of legal battles and political maneuvering that same-sex couples in the state were finally granted the right to marry in 2013. Since then, LGBTQ couples in New Jersey have enjoyed access to the same benefits and protections afforded to heterosexual couples. It was an essential step towards equal rights for all, and it continues to serve as a beacon of hope for those still fighting for recognition in states throughout the country.


What is the New Jersey respect for marriage law?

The New Jersey Respect for Marriage law is an important piece of legislation that was passed in order to ensure equal rights for same-sex couples. Prior to the implementation of this law, there were provisions that did not require states to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. This meant that same-sex couples could travel to another state where same-sex marriage was legal, get married, and then have that marriage not recognized in their home state.

The Respect for Marriage Act replaces these provisions with new provisions that prohibit the denial of full faith and credit or any right or claim relating to out-of-state marriages on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin. This means that same-sex couples who legally marry in another state will have their marriages recognized by the state of New Jersey.

This law is a significant step forward in the fight for equal rights for all couples, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. It ensures that same-sex couples who have made a lifelong commitment to each other are afforded the same legal protections and benefits as opposite-sex couples.

Furthermore, this law represents a broader commitment in New Jersey to promote and support equality for all individuals, regardless of their background or identity. It is a powerful statement in defense of civil rights and social justice, and it serves as an important example of what can be achieved when people come together to promote equality and respect for all.

What is a civil union partner in NJ?

In the state of New Jersey, a civil union partner is a term used to refer to a person who is in a legally recognized relationship with someone of the same sex, under the terms of a civil union. A civil union is a legally recognized union between two individuals that provides most of the legal benefits of marriage. In New Jersey, same-sex couples were granted the right to form civil unions in 2007, prior to the state legalizing same-sex marriage in 2013.

A civil union partner is entitled to certain legal rights and benefits in New Jersey that are similar to those of a spouse in a married union, such as the right to inherit property, visit one another in the hospital, and make medical decisions on behalf of their partner. Civil union partners in New Jersey are also entitled to certain state benefits, such as health insurance, if they are employed by the state or a state agency.

It is important to note that while a civil union in New Jersey provides many of the same legal benefits as marriage, it is still not considered a marriage. This means that civil union partners may not have access to the same federal benefits as married couples. Additionally, civil union partners who move to a state that does not recognize civil unions may not have the same legal protections and benefits that they have in New Jersey.

A civil union partner in New Jersey is a person who is in a legally recognized relationship with someone of the same sex. It provides many of the legal benefits of marriage, but is not considered a marriage under federal law.

When did NJ stop recognizing common law marriage?

Common law marriage is a historical legal concept that allows couples to be recognized as legally married even without a formal marriage ceremony. In the United States, common law marriage was recognized in some states prior to the 20th century. However, many states have since abolished common law marriage, including New Jersey.

New Jersey eliminated common law marriage in 1939 through a landmark case called Pascarella v. Bruck. The case involved an unmarried couple who lived together for 27 years before the man died. The woman, who the man never married, claimed that they were in a common law marriage. However, the court ruled against her and established that New Jersey would no longer recognize common law marriage.

At present, New Jersey does not allow for common law marriage. This means that couples cannot establish a common law marriage under current state law. Therefore, couples who wish to be recognized as legally married must obtain a marriage license and participate in a formal marriage ceremony. In addition, the divorce statutes that provide for spousal support and the equitable distribution of property will not apply to unmarried couples that are separating.

Common law marriage is no longer recognized in New Jersey, and couples who wish to be recognized as legally married must obtain a marriage license and participate in a formal marriage ceremony. The abolishment of common law marriage has brought clarity to the legal system in New Jersey, but it also highlights the importance of providing legal protections for unmarried couples who share a life together.