Same-Sex Marriage Fight Heads to New Jersey

Days after New York legalized gay marriage, homosexual advocates are seeking to legalize same-sex marriage in New Jersey through the courts after it failed in the Legislature last year.

A New Jersey gay rights legal organization, representing seven same-sex couples, filed a lawsuit in state Superior Court Wednesday that would force the state to recognize gay marriage.

The suit demands that same-sex partnerships be recognized as marriages, not civil unions. The filing comes on the heels of a gay marriage bill that was passed by the New York State Senate 33-29 and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

New Jersey began offering civil unions in 2007 after the state Supreme Court said the state had to give gay couples the same rights as married couples. But the suit argues that civil unions are a "badge of inferiority" and that the same-sex couples in civil unions face discrimination in medical offices.

"Today, New Jersey shunts lesbian and gay couples into the novel and inferior status of ‘civil union,’ while reserving civil marriage only for heterosexual couples," the suit states.

Gov. Chris Christie reiterated his opposition to gay marriage Tuesday during a radio interview with New Jersey 101.5.

"Marriage is an institution that has centuries old implications in both religious and cultural institutions, and I believe it should remain between one man and one woman," said Christie, a Catholic.

The Republican governor, however, said he is in favor of strengthening the current civil union law to include more legal protections.

The New Jersey State Senate rejected a bill to legalize gay marriage in January 2010, two weeks before Christie took office.

Two weeks ago, New Jersey Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), the state’s only openly gay lawmaker, revived the legislation with A4130, a bill to legalize same-sex marriage.

Christie has vowed to veto any gay marriage bill.

"I am not a fan of same-sex marriage," said the governor on NBC News' "Meet the Press" Sunday. "It's not something that I support."

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