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Report: N.J. Lawyers Expected To Defend Civil Unions As Court Date Looms

Opponents Call Civil Unions Separate But Unequal
Gay rights activists reacts outside the US Supreme Court building in Washington DC on June 26, 2013. (credit: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Gay rights activists reacts outside the US Supreme Court building in Washington DC on June 26, 2013. (credit: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

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TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Lawyers for New Jersey are expected to defend the state’s civil unions for same-sex couples as opposed to gay marriage.

Legal papers are due Friday in a lawsuit filed by gay couples and their children who say New Jersey’s civil unions fall short of a court mandate that gay couples be treated the same as married couples.

The suit was expedited after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that invalidated key parts of a federal law banning same-sex marriage.

The advocates say New Jersey is now blocking them from getting rights granted by the federal government, but New Jersey Family Council spokesman Len Deo told WCBS 880’s Levon Putney that he believes the state will show that civil unions do provide the same rights as marriages.

“I think the state is going to do a vigorous defense of the marriage issue,” Deo said. “The challenge, obviously, is based on a U.S. Supreme Court decision was they are not receiving several benefits and so that’s the step that needs to be taken.”

Deo argued that the federal government should recognize New Jersey’s parallel benefits system, which gay marriage advocates have called separate but unequal.

A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Aug. 15.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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