Haddon Heights, New Jersey (PressExposure) March 15, 2012 -- A New Jersey family lawyer explains the impact of the court's ruling.
A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that California's Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage within the state, is unconstitutional. Some gay rights advocates have hailed it as a step forward for the rights of LGB people; others have condemned the ruling as finding an unprecedented "constitutional argument for gay marriage." Still others are expecting divorce lawyers to be pleased by the rise in gay divorces. However, from a New Jersey family lawyer's perspective, this ruling is far less revolutionary than it seems.
The court did not rule on the larger issue of whether gay marriage is required under the Constitution; in fact, the court specifically stated that its ruling applied only to California and was based on the narrower question of whether it is legal for a state to remove the already existent right for same-sex couples to have the legal designation "marriage" applied to its relationships when the state otherwise makes no distinctions between same-sex and opposite-sex marriages. The ruling relied heavily on the Romer v. Evans decision, a 1996 ruling which overturned a Colorado anti-gay law.
The court concluded that the state had no reason to treat same-sex and opposite-sex couples differently, since under statutory family law their relationships were identical. The law couldn't have affected the state's legitimate interest in procreation or childrearing since it has no effect on same-sex couples' ability to procreate and raise children; similarly, it has no effect on religious liberty or parents' ability to educate children. Its only purpose, the court decided, was to delegitimize same-sex relationships in the eyes of the state, which is not enough of a purpose to make it a legitimate concern of the state.
While this is an important precedent for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists, it does not create the right to a gay marriage; if you are a same-sex couple who wishes to have the same rights as a married couple in New Jersey, call a New Jersey family lawyer for help with the necessary forms.
Helmer Legal's New Jersey family lawyers practice administrative, criminal, immigration, labor, municipal court, personal injury, workers' compensation and family law. The firm's knowledgeable, professional lawyers strive to ethically and compassionately provide the best legal service possible to their clients.
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