By Hank Kalet (Courtesy of NJ Spotlight)
Gay rights activists are celebrating a New Jersey judge's decision Friday that same-sex couples can legally marry in the Garden State.
But they still have questions about when they can actually tie the knot. The superior court judge set October 21 as the day they can apply for licenses, but Gov. Chris Christie has said he would appeal the ruling, and it's not clear whether he will seek a stay.
Hayley Gorenberg, deputy legal director at Lambda Legal, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, said the immediate impact would be to allow New Jersey’s same-sex couples can marry 72 hours after they apply for licenses. They would then have access to federal benefits.
She also said that public officials -- mayors and others -- would not be able to discriminate in performing marriages; they could opt out only by not performing any weddings. at all. Religious institutions would be exempt.
Carrie Faroane, of Plainfield, said there are pragmatic concerns surrounding the decision. She said that despite being in a civil union she and her partner, Chao-I Chen, have not been able to file joint tax returns or share health coverage, and there remains the possibility that, were one of them to get sick, the other’s rights could be superseded by blood relatives. She called her civil union a “Jim Crow marriage” and “marriage-lite.”
“If something happened to me, other members of the family could step in and say ‘We are her blood,’” Faroane said. “But this is the person I want to make decisions for me, to inherit what I have, who I want to spend my life with.”
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