The administration of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Friday
told gay couples suing the state for the right to marry that they
should instead sue the federal government for not recognizing their
Within days after the Supreme Court eviscerated a key provision of
the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), plaintiffs in a 2011 challenge to
the state's laws limiting marriage to heterosexual couples told the
judge overseeing the case that after the DOMA ruling no trial was
needed to recognize that the state's civil unions law fails to
satisfy a 2006 New Jersey Supreme Court ruling declaring that gay
couples are entitled to the same rights and benefits that married
heterosexual couples enjoy.
“The New Jersey statutory scheme shows itself to be
unjustifiable discrimination,” the couples' lawyers said in their
filing, according to the AP.
The Supreme Court ruling striking down DOMA means that the federal
government must recognize the marriages of gay couples. However,
civil unions, held up by proponents as an equal institution in terms
of benefits, will not be recognized by the federal government.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the New Jersey case said that the
ruling “made clear that those who are not married, including those
consigned instead to civil unions, are not entitled to the federal
rights, benefits, protections and responsibilities that the Windsor
decision extends to those who are married.”
In its filing, the state said that a quick ruling that bypasses a
full trial would be inappropriate.
“Plaintiffs, by virtue of their summary judgment motion, seek to
side-step the Supreme Court mandate concerning the need for a factual
record,” wrote the state Attorney General's Office in its brief.
According to the AP, the state also argued that if couples in
civil unions are being denied federal benefits, the advocates should
sue the federal government, not the state.