Same Sex Marriages May Proceed, as Supreme Court Denies Stay Pending Appeal

Today, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion, written by Chief Justice Rabner, denying the State’s request to stay the Law Division’s ruling that allows same sex marriages in New Jersey.  The Supreme Court’s opinion is available here.  That opinion largely adopts the reasoning of the Law Division for denying a stay, expressed in an opinion that can be found here

The Court applied the standard criteria of Crowe v. De Gioia, 90 N.J. 126 (1982), and concluded that the State had not met its burden of demonstrating its  right to a stay pending appeal.  The State failed to make “a forceful showing of irreparable harm.”  Nor did the State demonstrate that “its underlying legal claim is settled” or that the State had a “reasonable probability of success on the merits.”  The balance of hardships favored plaintiffs, since the State had identified only “abstract harms” to itself, while plaintiffs suffer “immediate and concrete violations of [their] right to equal protection under the law.”  Chief Justice Rabner listed “a host of federal benefits” for which plaintiffs and their children would be ineligible if they could not enter a same sex marriage.  Finally, the Court could “find no public interest in depriving a group of New Jersey residents of their constitutional right to equal protection while the appeals process unfolds.”

The Court previously granted review of the merits of the Law Division’s decision.  As today’s opinion notes, further argument on the merits will be heard in January 2014.  Meanwhile, same sex marriages may proceed.