With the recent changes in federal law allowing same-sex couples the right to marry, many couples in civil unions are uncertain as to what their status is. Essentially, civil unions are not affected by the Supreme Court decisions in Windsor and Obergefell , which affect only same-sex marriages, not civil unions. This means that no additional rights are granted to couples in civil unions. If couples in civil unions wish to marry and receive the benefits associated with marriage, therefore, they must obtain a marriage license to convert their civil union into a marriage. All of the laws that apply to traditional marriage also apply to same-sex marriage, including those concerning divorce, equitable distribution of property, and alimony.
Due to the evolving law in this area, discussing your concerns with a knowledgeable New Jersey divorce lawyer can be useful to New Jersey residents who are considering dissolving a civil union. Call us at or contact us online for a consultation. Contact Us: Practice Areas. Personal Legal Services. Civil Unions. Civil Unions New Jersey Family Law Lawyers Guiding Residents of the Westfield and Summit Areas Considering the relatively recent creation of civil unions, many couples have questions about their legal rights when they enter into this status, as well as upon its dissolution.
Rights Conferred by Civil Unions New Jersey law was amended in to recognize civil unions between two people of the same sex. Discuss Your Dissolution Proceeding with a New Jersey Attorney Due to the evolving law in this area, discussing your concerns with a knowledgeable New Jersey divorce lawyer can be useful to New Jersey residents who are considering dissolving a civil union.
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In September , Mary C. Supreme Court's June decision in United States v. Windsor , New Jersey's Constitution requires the state to recognize same-sex marriages. Therefore, the state court reasoned in Garden State Equality v.
Dow , because same-sex couples in New Jersey were limited to civil unions , which are not recognized as marriages under federal law, the state must permit civil marriage for same-sex couples. Harris that the state was constitutionally required to afford the rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples. The Supreme Court had ordered the State Legislature to correct the constitutional violation, by permitting either same-sex marriage or civil unions with all the rights and benefits of marriage, within days. In response, the Legislature passed a bill to legalize civil unions on December 21, , which became effective on February 19, In , the New Jersey Legislature passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, but it was vetoed by Governor Chris Christie.
Following the trial court decision in Garden State Equality v. Dow , the Christie administration asked the state Supreme Court to grant a stay of the decision pending appeal. On October 18, , the Supreme Court unanimously denied the request for a stay. This action removed the last potential impediment to same-sex marriages in the state. In , New Jersey implemented a domestic partnerships scheme. It was one of the first states to do so after California.
In , advocates of same-sex unions sued to transcend domestic partnership in the case, Lewis v. The judges struck down the domestic partnership arrangement and split to allow the Legislature to pass civil unions instead of allowing same-sex marriage. In December , the New Jersey Legislature passed a bill providing for civil unions and recognizing other states' civil unions. The law made domestic partnerships available to all same-sex couples, as well as to different-sex couples aged 62 and older. The domestic partnership statute provides "limited healthcare, inheritance, property rights and other rights and obligations" but "[does] not approach the broad array of rights and obligations afforded to married couples.
The domestic partnership statute remains in place even though New Jersey subsequently enacted a civil union statute. Couples in an existing domestic partnership are not required to enter a civil union. However, new domestic partnerships are available only to couples in which both partners are 62 and over, whether same-sex or different-sex.
Harris that the "unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our State Constitution. While the decision was widely reported as a 4—3 split, the differences between the Justices on the Court were on whether only the provision of civil marriage rights to same-sex couples would resolve the constitutional defect, or whether another change in statute would pass constitutional scrutiny.
The Court avoided the question of what to call the legal status, leaving that to, as the majority stated, the "crucible of the democratic process. The dissent, led by then-Chief Justice Deborah T.
Poritz , chastised the junior members of the Court who said that anything other than marriage would provide equal rights: "What we name things matters, language matters Labels set people apart surely as physical separation on a bus or in school facilities By excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage, the State declares that it is legitimate to differentiate between their commitments and the commitments of heterosexual couples.
Ultimately the message is that what same-sex couples have is not as important or as significant as real marriage, that such lesser relationships cannot have the name of marriage. On December 14, , the New Jersey Legislature passed a bill providing for civil unions,  which was signed into law by then-Governor Jon Corzine on December 21, The Civil Union Act came into effect on February 19, Same-sex couples who enter into a civil union are provided almost all of the rights granted to married couples under New Jersey state law.
However, under the provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA, same-sex couples in civil unions and domestic partnerships did not have any right or entitlement to the 1, rights that a married couple has under federal law. The law provides  for the creation of a Civil Unions Review Commission that will evaluate the law's effectiveness and any problems resulting therefrom, and will report every six months for three years following enactment to assess the impact of the law.
The Commission elected a chair, Frank Vespa-Papaleo, the current Director of the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights, and the Commission plans on meeting monthly as well as conducting periodic public meetings. According to the new civil union law,  when a same-sex couple receives a civil union, their domestic partnership is automatically terminated by the civil union. However, those couples who remain in domestic partnerships and elect to not enter into a civil union will be allowed to remain as domestic partners. New domestic partnerships can still be formed if both partners are 62 years of age or older.
In addition, the NJSBA formally endorsed the marriage bill proposed by openly gay Assemblyman Reed Gusciora , saying that only same-sex marriage would meet the standard mandated by the Lewis decision. A UPS spokesman claimed that language in its collective bargaining agreement with the Teamsters union prevented it from extending benefits to same-sex partners. On July 30, a UPS spokesman said: "We have received clear guidance that, at least in New Jersey, the state truly views civil union partners as married. We've heard that loud and clear from state officials and we're happy to make this change.
Prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in New Jersey, all same-sex relationships including marriages contracted out of state were recognized as having the same legal force as New Jersey civil unions, where they "provide substantially all the rights and benefits of marriage", or as equivalent and having the same legal force as New Jersey domestic partnerships, where they "provide some but not all of the rights and obligations of marriage".
During the first 90 days after the law went into effect, same-sex couples entered civil-unions, according to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. During the same period, the LGBT civil rights organization, Garden State Equality , reported that it has received complaints from couples denied benefits by employers or insurers. On May 22, , the Star-Ledger reported that the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights has received at least inquiries from couples in civil unions denied benefits by employers or insurers.
According to the LGBT civil rights organization Garden State Equality, by the end of July , of the 1, couples who had entered New Jersey civil unions since February 19 had "reported to Garden State Equality that their employers refused to recognize their civil unions. By February , 2, couples had entered into civil unions in the state.
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Beginning on March 5, , D. Kiki Tomek, deputy city clerk of Asbury Park , processed same-sex marriage licenses for several days. A commission was formed to review whether civil unions brought equality to same-sex couples. It determined that civil unions failed to provide equal treatment.
On December 10, , the Commission released its unanimous finding that marriage laws should be made gender-neutral to ensure equal treatment of same-sex couples. In late , lame duck Governor Jon Corzine stated that he would sign a bill legalizing same-sex marriage if it came to his desk before he left office, while his newly elected Republican successor Chris Christie said that he would promote a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
Christie later supported a public vote on same-sex marriage; while he was personally opposed to it, he promised not to revisit the same-sex marriage issue if it was legalized by popular vote. Harris that it review whether the Legislature had complied with the court's order in that case.
It said it wanted the challenge to begin in a lower court where a trial record could be developed. Lewis , N. On December 7, , the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee approved a same-sex marriage bill by a vote of 7 to 6, after seven hours of testimony and debate. It was amended in committee to clarify that clergy would not be required to perform weddings for same-sex couples. On February 13, , the State Senate passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage by a vote of 24 to 16, and on February 16, the Assembly passed it by a vote of 42 to 33, with three Republicans and one Democrat not voting, and one Democratic seat temporarily vacant.
In neither house was the bill passed by a veto-proof majority. Governor Christie vetoed the bill the next day and called for a constitutional amendment for same-sex marriage to be presented to the voters as a ballot referendum. On February 21, , state Democratic leaders announced plans to hold a vote to override the Governor's veto.
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The legislation needed three additional votes in the Senate and 12 in the House. Christie said in response: "If you want to change the core of a 2,year-old institution, the way to do that is to put it in front of the voters in the state of New Jersey and let them vote". On June 29, , Lambda Legal filed suit in the Law Division of Superior Court in Mercer County on behalf Garden State Equality , seven same-sex couples, and several of their children, arguing that New Jersey's civil unions do not provide the same rights as marriage as required by the court's decision in Lewis , N.
Supreme Court decision in United States v. The Christie administration appealed Jacobson's ruling and also requested a stay of its execution. The state Supreme Court accepted the appeal on October 11 and scheduled oral arguments for January 6—7, A UCLA study estimated the potential economic impact of same-sex marriage on New Jersey and concluded that the gain would be substantial.
If New Jersey were to give same-sex couples the right to marry, that is marriage itself and not civil unions, the state would experience a surge in spending on weddings by same-sex couples who currently live in New Jersey, as well as an increase in wedding and tourist spending by same-sex couples from other states. The questions asked in each poll varied. The Rutgers poll, for example, asked voters if they will accept a decision by the Legislature to legalize same-sex marriage,  while the Rasmussen Reports survey asked voters whether they personally define marriage as a union of a man and a woman or between a union of two people.
New Jersey trends mirrored national trends, in that women, young people, Latinos, people with a college education,  and people who know gay men and lesbians were more supportive of same-sex marriage than men. The elderly, blacks, Asians, people without a college education, and those who do not know any gay men or lesbians were most opposed. However, same-sex marriage was not seen as an "important issue" by the latter groups, and the Eagleton Institute found that they were not likely to be source of opposition to the bill if it passed.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Not to be confused with Same-sex marriage in Jersey. Israel Mexico 1.
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