The administration of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie [official website] on Monday sent a letter to the state's supreme court, appealing a lower court ruling [JURIST report] which held that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in the state. Despite Judge Mary Jacobson's finding that the state's current process of civil unions deprives same-sex couples of federal benefits enjoyed by married couples, Christie has argued that the federal government should be held responsible [AP report] for denying benefits to same-sex couples, not the state government. Christie has previously battled the legalization of same-sex marriage, when he vetoed a law passed by New Jersey lawmakers last year that would have allowed same-sex marriage in the state. In Monday's letter, Acting Attorney General John Jay Hoffman [official website] also requested that the court grant a stay in order to delay implementation of the lower court's ruling until the matter has been completely settled. Currently, the implementation date is set for October 21.
The heated debate regarding same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is one of the most polarizing issues currently facing the US legal community. Last Friday Michigan's Treasury Department ruled [JURIST report] that same-sex spouses must file separate tax returns. Last Wednesday a judge for the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio expanded a lawsuit [JURIST report] seeking the recognition of same-sex spouses on death certificates. Judge Timothy Black ruled in July and September [JURIST reports] that the surviving same-sex spouses of two decedents should be listed as spouses on death certificates, because their marriages were valid under the laws of the states where they were performed. Earlier last week a Kentucky judge ruled that the same-sex spouse of a woman charged with murder must testify against her at the trial because same-sex partners are not protected by the spousal privilege [JURIST report] under Kentucky state law. Last month the Texas Supreme Court announced that it will consider whether the state has jurisdiction [JURIST report] to grant divorces to two same-sex couples who were legally married in Massachusetts.