New Jersey’s Marriage Case Starts Today

The New York Times reports:

New Jersey is in a unique position, because its Supreme Court ruled in 2006 that the state could not deny same-sex couples the benefits granted to married couples. The Legislature, in response, passed a law allowing civil unions. But more recent attempts to legalize same-sex marriage were blocked by Mr. Christie. Now, the debate in court will hinge on whether the Supreme Court ruling in June that extended federal benefits to same-sex married couples applies as well to civil unions.

Advocates for same-sex marriage said the ruling clearly did not apply to civil unions and therefore, to meet the standard of equal protection that the state’s court set in 2006, New Jersey must allow marriage, not just civil unions. In court papers filed in advance of the oral arguments Thursday, they argued that state-sanctioned marriage was the “unique gateway to the full array of federal marriage benefits,” noting that the Supreme Court had explicitly noted its ruling was “confined to those lawful marriages” in states that allow them.

The Times notes that Gov. Christie and the state attorney general declined to comment for their story.