State Laws and Legislation

New Jersey Marriage/Relationship Recognition Law

Licenses marriages for same-sex couples? No.
There is a motion pending before the state Supreme Court challenging the denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Representing the original couples in Lewis et. al. v. Harris, in March 2010 Lambda Legal filed a Motion in Aid of Litigants' Rights with the state Supreme Court arguing that civil unions have not fulfilled the Constitution's guarantee of equality promised in the Court's 2006 ruling.

Honors marriages of same-sex couples from other jurisdictions? No explicit prohibition.

Any form of statewide relationship recognition for same-sex couples? Yes.
In 2006, the state Legislature passed a civil unions bill, which confers all state-level spousal rights for parties in a civil unions. This law went into effect in early 2007.

Citation: N.J. STAT. ANN. §37:1; §37:2; §26:8; and several other provisions in state law.

Recent Developments in New Jersey
In October 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples the rights and responsibilities of marriage. The court deferred to the New Jersey Legislature on the question of how to extend these rights and responsibilities to same-sex couples. In December 2006 the Legislature passed a measure establishing civil unions for same-sex couples.

On March 8, 2004, Asbury Park became the first city in New Jersey to grant marriage rights to same-sex couples when Deputy Mayor James Bruno performed a wedding ceremony for two men. The next day, a city clerk began accepting marriage license applications from other same-sex couples. On March 10, state Attorney General Peter Harvey said he would seek an injunction to halt the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in New Jersey. As a result, the same-sex couples who had already applied for licenses were unable to hold marriage ceremonies. Harvey also deemed invalid the one marriage that had been performed.

New Jersey Civil Unions: Same-sex couples in New Jersey have been able to enter into civil unions since February 2007. Civil unions offer same-sex couples state-level spousal rights and responsibilities, but none of the federal protections (such as Social Security survivor benefits), and there is no guarantee that the unions will be recognized by other states or the federal government.

The domestic partnership law that was passed in 2004 is available only to opposite-sex couples over the age of 62.


The legal information provided on this page is provided as a courtesy to the public. It is not designed to serve as legal advice. HRC does not warrant that this information is current or comprehensive.

Updated: Mon, May 10, 2010 - 11:00:56