Equality in New Jersey
As was the case in Vermont, the court left it up to the legislature whether to amend marriage laws to include same-sex couples or establish equivalent civil unions or domestic partnerships. The legislature must act within six months.
The heart of the opinion:
"To comply with the equal protection guarantee of Article I, Paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, the State must provide to committed same-sex couples, on equal terms, the full 65 rights and benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.
"The State can fulfill that constitutional requirement in one of two ways. It can either amend the marriage statutes to include same-sex couples or enact a parallel statutory structure by another name, in which same-sex couples would not only enjoy the rights and benefits, but also bear the burdens and obligations of civil marriage.
"If the State proceeds with a parallel scheme, it cannot make entry into a same-sex civil union any more difficult than it is for heterosexual couples to enter the state of marriage. It may, however, regulate that scheme similarly to marriage and, for instance, restrict civil unions based on age and consanguinity and prohibit polygamous relationships.”