[JURIST] The Supreme Court of New Jersey [official website] on Friday agreed to hear [order, PDF] an appeal [JURIST report] by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie [official website] challenging a lower court ruling that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry [JURIST report]. The decision will allow the case to skip appellate-level hearings and move straight to the Supreme Court, with briefs are due in early November and oral arguments scheduled [Star-Ledger report] for January. With the lower court's order that same-sex couples be permitted to marry set to be implemented on October 21, the Supreme Court is expected to rule on Christie's request for a stay of the order shortly.
The heated debate regarding same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is one of the most polarizing [JURIST op-ed] issues currently facing the US legal community. Last month Michigan's Treasury Department ruled [JURIST report] that same-sex spouses must file separate tax returns. Also last month 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. Also in September, 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.