Supreme Court decides DOMA and Prop 8; New Jersey and the nation react

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cocktail chatter

New Jersey Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon), one of only two openly gay state legislators, said in a statement today, “Now that DOMA has been declared invalid by the U.S. Supreme Court, New Jersey should no longer discriminate by upholding civil unions, and instead grant full marriage, which is now confirmed by our federal government. The Court’s decision is an essential step and I commend those five justices for their ruling.” 

Gusciora was the prime sponsor of New Jersey’s Marriage Equality Act to recognize same-sex marriages.

“Hopefully this decision will provide greater traction for New Jersey in acquiring the same equality,” says NJ Assemblyman Reed Gusciora.

The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and that the federal government cannot discriminate against married lesbian and gay couples for the purposes of determining federal benefits and protections. Today’s ruling is a historic victory for the LGBT community.

Gusciora said that New Jersey still need to correct its own inequality “by either the governor [Chris Christie] withdrawing his veto on marriage equality or by placing the matter up to the voters so we can correct this ourselves.”

Gusciora reminded voters that New Jersey is still one of just two states in the Northeast without same-sex marriage. He said the landmark decision by the Supreme Court recognizes the rights and privileges of all loving, committed couples who currently have marriage licenses. This decision will likely provide greater traction for New Jersey in acquiring the same equality.

Troy Stevenson, chair of Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s largest LGBT rights organization, said in an e-mail today, “With California rejoining 12 other marriage equality states and the District of Columbia, 30% of Americans now live in places with marriage equality. By striking down part of the Defense of Marriage Act, the Court is also ensuring that the LGBT Americans who live in those 13 states and DC will have equal access to the 1,138 federal marriage rights and benefits that opposite-sex couples already enjoy.”

GSE's Troy Stevenson said,

GSE’s Troy Stevenson said, “New Jersey couples in civil unions will continue to be shut out of federal marriage rights.”

As to New Jersey, Stevenson said, “New Jersey’s couples in civil unions will continue to be shut out of federal marriage rights even as our brothers and sisters in Connecticut, Delaware, New York and elsewhere have achieved full equality.”

Tomorrow, GSE will hold a major event at the State House in Trenton at 125 State St. starting at 11:30 a.m., Stevenson reported in his e-mail.

Elsewhere, the LGBT social justice organization GetEQUAL said in a statement, “Our work is far from over—not simply in our struggle for marriage equality in all 50 states, but also in employment, immigration, housing, credit, public accommodations, and so many other ways. Today we celebrate, but we are getting right back to work.”

“While marriage for gays and lesbians will be a reality once again in California,” said Andre Banks, executive director of All Out, “the law is still a complicated mess for gays and lesbians in the United States. Gay Americans have on-again off-again protections depending on where they live, and where they travel. This is unacceptable, and un-American.” He said his online social networking organization continues to fight “until the freedom to marry is available in all 50 states and every country around the world.”

The judiciary has now caught up with the American public and the tremendous momentum our movement has had since the passage of Prop. 8 five years ago,” said Rick Jacobs, founder and chair of www.CourageCampaign.org, a leading progressive organization based in California. “Love should not be legislated or litigated.” He continued, “We hope today’s rulings settle this issue once and for all as we celebrate loving couples marrying in California and across the country in the coming weeks, months and years.”

“This is a joyous moment in our country’s history, thanks in large part to Edie Windsor, who fought many hard-won battles along the way to this victory,” said Michael Adams, executive director of Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders. “Older lesbian and gay couples were especially hard-hit by DOMA, and their health, well-being and quality of life will now be vastly improved. Congratulations to Edie, a longtime SAGE hero, on breaking down another barrier to full equality for LGBT elders! Today’s ruling is a tremendous victory that means that thousands of older lesbian and gay couples will be able to better protect their families because they will finally have equal access to federal benefits, programs and protections that provide safety and support for older Americans.”

Meanwhile social conservatives are lashing out. Reacting to the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down DOMA today, Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes tweeted: “Supreme Court overrules God.” Starnes later added, “Won’t be long before they outlaw the Bible as hate speech.”

New Jersey Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon), one of only two openly gay state legislators, said in a statement today, “Now that DOMA has been declared invalid by the U.S. Supreme Court, New Jersey should no longer discriminate by upholding civil unions, and instead grant full marriage, which is now confirmed by our federal government. The Court’s decision is an essential step and I commend those five justices for their ruling.”