TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Lawyers for gay couples and New Jersey’s government laid out their cases to a judge Thursday in a suit by six gay couples calling for gay marriage to be made legal in the state.
They also want same-sex marriages from other states recognized in New Jersey.
New Jersey now allows only civil unions for same-sex couples.
Judge Mary Jacobson gave both sides time to provide more information in writing and said that she would not rule on the issue before September.
Kevin Jesperson, a state assistant attorney general, told the judge that the federal government should recognize New Jersey civil unions as the equivalent to marriage and give registered couples access to Social Security survivor benefits, joint tax filing and other federal benefits. If federal agencies don’t do that, he said, the plaintiffs should sue them, not the state.
Garden State Equality and the couples claim New Jersey is discriminating against them after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a ban on giving federal benefits to married same-sex couples.
By the court’s count, there are around 1,000 federal rights same-sex couples in New Jersey are not entitled to.
“For one reason and one reason only, which is that even though they can be in a civil union, they can’t say they’re married,” Garden State Equality attorney Lawrence Lustberg said outside court.
“Issues like healthcare, domestic support, tax benefits, the right to be buried together,” Lustberg added to CBS 2’s Adriana Diaz.