Case: Garden State Equality v. Dow

11-01729 | New Jersey state trial court

Filed Date: June 29, 2011

Closed Date: 2013

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On June 29, 2011, an organization advocating for LGBT rights in New Jersey, along with twelve same-sex couples and their children, filed a lawsuit in the Mercer County Superior Court of New Jersey under the equal protection clauses of the New Jersey and U.S. Constitutions. The plaintiffs asked the court for a declaration that same-sex couples' exclusion from the institution of marriage violated their constitutional rights. The plaintiffs also sought an injunction preventing the state from (1) d…

On June 29, 2011, an organization advocating for LGBT rights in New Jersey, along with twelve same-sex couples and their children, filed a lawsuit in the Mercer County Superior Court of New Jersey under the equal protection clauses of the New Jersey and U.S. Constitutions.

The plaintiffs asked the court for a declaration that same-sex couples' exclusion from the institution of marriage violated their constitutional rights. The plaintiffs also sought an injunction preventing the state from (1) denying them access to civil marriage, (2) maintaining the unequal legal status of "civil union" solely for same-sex couples, and (3) refusing to recognize same-sex marriages legally obtained in other jurisdictions. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that the denial of the legal status of "marriage" and "spouse" for same-sex couples caused their families civic and commercial harms by excluding them from benefits and protections equal to those given to married couples.

On July 3, 2013, the plaintiffs moved for summary judgment, relying on the U.S. Supreme Court decision in U.S. v. Windsor, which held that restricting the federal interpretation of "marriage" and "spouse" to apply only to heterosexual unions was unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

On September 27, 2013, the New Jersey Superior Court (Honorable Mary C. Jacobson A.J.S.C), granted the motion for summary judgment and found for the plaintiffs, ordering the State of New Jersey to permit any and all same-sex couples, who otherwise satisfied the requirements to enter into a civil marriage, to marry in New Jersey.

The governor and the attorney general of New Jersey attempted to delay same-sex marriages through an appeal to the New Jersey State Supreme Court, but withdrew this appeal on October 21, 2013. On October 21, 2013, same-sex marriage became legal in New Jersey. This case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Katrina Fahey (10/28/2013)

People


Judge(s)

Feinberg, Linda R. (New Jersey)

Jacobson, Mary C. (New Jersey)

Rabner, Stuart (New Jersey)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Connor, Eileen Mathews (New York)

Gorenberg, Hayley J. (New York)

Lustberg, Lawrence S. (New Jersey)

Pedro, Portia D. (New Jersey)

Yaster, Benjamin (New Jersey)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Jesperson, Kevin R. (New Jersey)

Reilly, Jean P. (New Jersey)

Judge(s)

Feinberg, Linda R. (New Jersey)

Jacobson, Mary C. (New Jersey)

Rabner, Stuart (New Jersey)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Connor, Eileen Mathews (New York)

Gorenberg, Hayley J. (New York)

Lustberg, Lawrence S. (New Jersey)

Pedro, Portia D. (New Jersey)

Yaster, Benjamin (New Jersey)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Jesperson, Kevin R. (New Jersey)

Reilly, Jean P. (New Jersey)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket

July 8, 2011 Docket

Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief

June 29, 2011 Complaint

Opinion

2012 WL 5687193

Feb. 21, 2012 Order/Opinion

Order Granting Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and Entering Final Judgment in Favor of Plaintiffs

New Jersey state supreme court

82 A.3d 336

Sept. 27, 2013 Order/Opinion

Order (Jurisdiction)

New Jersey state supreme court

Oct. 11, 2013 Order/Opinion

Opinion (On a motion for stay pending appeal)

New Jersey state supreme court

79 A.3d 1036

Oct. 18, 2013 Order/Opinion

Resources

Title Description External URL

Garden State Equality, et al. v. Dow, et al

Lambda Legal

After nearly a decade fighting for marriage equality in New Jersey, Lambda Legal is back in court representing six same-sex couples and their children harmed from the unequal civil union system, and … Oct. 18, 2013 https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/garden-state-equality-v-dow

Garden State Equality v. Paula Dow

ACLU New Jersey

In 2011, Lambda Legal filed suit on behalf of Garden State Equality and six same-sex families against the state, arguing that New Jersey’s civil union system, which the legislature created to provide… Oct. 21, 2013 https://www.aclu-nj.org/cases/garden-state-equality-v-paula-dow

Docket

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: New Jersey

Case Type(s):

Public Benefits/Government Services

Special Collection(s):

Same-Sex Marriage

Key Dates

Filing Date: June 29, 2011

Closing Date: 2013

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Garden State Equality (“GSE”), the largest organization advocating for LGBT rights in New Jersey, and twelve committed same-sex couples and their children.

Attorney Organizations:

Lambda Legal

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Human Services, State

Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, State

State of New Jersey, State

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Equal Protection

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Declaratory Judgment

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Order Duration: 2013 - 0

Issues

General:

Gay/lesbian/transgender

Marriage

Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)

Discrimination-basis:

Sex discrimination

Sexual orientatation