LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

Garden State Equality Director Happy With Marriage Ruling, Will Continue Fight

Garden State Equality has won a victory in its fight for marriage equality with a judge ruling today that New Jersey must permit same-sex marriages. Garden State Equality Executive Director Troy Stevenson told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that despite winning this battle, the organization’s work continues and members won’t stop fighting until all couples can marry.

Stevenson got the news in the form of an e-mail from the organization’s attorneys. “It was two words and an exclamation point — we won!” he said.

Despite the ruling and Gov. Chris Christie’s vow to appeal it, Stevenson said the strategy hasn’t changed. “We celebrated for about five minutes and we went back to work. We’ve been saying for months that we’re gonna win marriage equality for every couple in New Jersey either through litigation or legislation,” he said. “This was the first victory in the first round of the litigation but we still have a long way to go and we’re gonna fight until we absolutely guarantee that every couple in the state of New Jersey can get married this year. Whether that’s through litigation or legislation we’re gonna continue to fight on both fronts.”

The judge’s order goes into effect in a few weeks, but Stevenson said it’s very likely the Christie administration will attempt to get a stay or injunction. He believes it will be a difficult legal battle, however.

“They have to prove irreparable harm for the state,” he explained. “And I don’t know how they can prove the state is gonna be irreparably harmed by letting loving and committed couples get married in the state of New Jersey so I think they’ve got a hard case to sell. And we hope that on Oct. 21, the state starts issuing marriage licenses and we look forward to attending a whole lot of weddings on Oct. 24.”

In the meantime, Garden State Equality will continue to work to get enough votes to override Christie’s veto on the marriage equality bill. “We’re gonna continue to fight in the legislature as this winds its way through the courts. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that by January of 2014, every couple in the state of New Jersey has the freedom to marry,” Stevenson said.