Rainbow Law has a document package designed to protect same-sex partners in New Jersey. We offer 9 unique Affordable Document Packages, Individual Legal Documents and FREE Advance Directives to help protect your rights and the rights of your family. To order a legal document package that complies with New Jersey law, hover your mouse over the “Buy A Package” link in the top menu and click on the package that best suits your needs in the drop-down list. If you’re not sure what package is right for you, click this link and we’ll help you figure out what you need.
New Jersey recognizes the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry. And because the US Supreme Court overturned parts of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal government also recognizes LGBT marriages. This means same-sex married couples living in New Jersey are eligible for all rights and benefits afforded to heterosexual married couples.
Here is a run-down on New Jersey law affecting the LGBTQ community:
1 Recognition of Same-Sex Relationships: Same-sex marriage in New Jersey has been legally recognized since October 21, 2013, the effective date of a trial court ruling invalidating the state’s restriction of marriage to persons of different sexes.
In 2012, the New Jersey Legislature had passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, but it was vetoed by Governor Chris Christie.
Following the trial court decision in Garden State Equality v. Dow, the Christie administration asked the state Supreme Court to grant a stay of the decision pending appeal. On October 18, 2013, the Supreme Court unanimously denied the request for a stay. Three days later, on the day the trial court ruling went into effect and local officials had begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and some wedding ceremonies had been performed, the Governor withdrew the state’s appeal. This action removed the last potential impediment to same-sex marriages in the state.
New Jersey recognizes some same-sex relationships contracted out of state as either equivalent to and having the same legal force as New Jersey civil unions, where they “provide substantially all the rights and benefits of marriage”, or as equivalent and having the same legal force as New Jersey domestic partnerships, where they “provide some but not all of the rights and obligations of marriage”. Same-sex couples legally married in another state or country may be divorced in New Jersey, a Superior Court ruled.
To date, sixteen states – CA, CT, DE, HI, IA, IL, ME, MD, MA, MN, NH, NJ, NY, RI, VT, and WA – plus Washington, D.C. have the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.
2 Adoption Law: New Jersey never had a policy of denying adoption of children based on sexual orientation, however the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services had a policy of denying consent to joint adoption by unmarried couples. This was changed in 1997. The sexual orientation of parents is not necessarily considered a dispositive factor in considering the best interests of the child, be they prospective in adoption or current in child custody cases.
3 Anti-Discrimination Law: The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, amended to include sexual orientation and gender identity in 1991 and 2006, prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. Criminal law deters bias-motivated crimes against LGBT individuals, and New Jersey schools are required to adopt anti-bullying measures that address LGBT students. In August 2013, Governor Chris Christie signed a bill into law prohibiting mental health providers from providing reparative therapy to LGBT minors.
4 Sodomy Law: State v. Ciuffini (1978), a state appellate court struck down the state’s sodomy laws as unconstitutional, finding that “the individual’s right of personal privacy and autonomy prevail[s] over the state’s right to regulate private sexual conduct.” New Jersey repealed its sodomy law in 1978.
5Gender Identity: In June 2013, the New Jersey Legislature passed A3371 which makes it illegal to engage in sexual orientation change efforts (including conversion therapy) on minors. It was signed into law by Governor Chris Christie on August 19, 2013. New Jersey is the second U.S. state to do so, after California. In November 2013, a federal judge upheld the law.
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