Lewis v. Harris

378 N.J. Super 168
Brief Filed: 11/04
Court: Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division
Year of Decision: 2005

Read the full-text amicus brief (PDF, 248KB)

Issue

Whether the New Jersey Constitution compels the state to allow same-sex couples to marry

Index Topic

Sexual Orientation (discrimination; same-sex marriage)

Facts

Plaintiffs are seven same-sex couples who each applied for marriage licenses in New Jersey. Defendants are state officials with supervisory responsibilities relating to local officials' issuance of marriage licenses. Plaintiffs claim that the denial of their applications for marriage licenses violates their rights of privacy and equal protection of the law protected by the New Jersey Constitution. As relief for the claimed violations of their state constitutional rights, plaintiffs sought a mandatory injunction compelling the defendant state officials to provide them access to the institution of marriage on the same terms and conditions as a couple of the opposite sex. The trial court granted summary judgment for the state, denying the plaintiffs/appellants relief and the case was appealed to the Superior Court of New Jersey.

APA's Position

APA's brief provides the Court with the scientific and professional literature pertinent to the issues before the Court. Material provided is consistent with research APA provided as amicus in a variety of other cases involving parental rights, challenges to sodomy statutes and other GLBT rights issues. The brief addresses the extensive psychological literature that has found no difference between same-sex and heterosexual couples on characteristics such as levels of intimacy, feelings of commitment and desire for relationships as well as the scientific research which has firmly established that homosexuality is not a disorder or disease. Additionally, the brief addresses the large number of children raised by lesbians and gay men, both in same-sex couples and as single parents. APA takes the position that ending the prohibition on marriage for same-sex partners is in the best interest of the children being raised by these parents as the children will benefit from the legal stability and other familial benefits that marriage provides. The brief cites empirical research which shows that lesbian and gay parents do not differ from heterosexuals in their parenting skills, and their children do not show any deficits compared to children raised by heterosexual parents. Unlike past APA briefs supporting same-sex couples, this brief also addresses the social and psychological benefits — to both gay and heterosexual people — of marriage as an institution. The brief states that allowing same-sex couples to marry would give them access to the legal, social and economic support that already facilitate and strengthen heterosexual marriages as well as end the antigay stigma imposed by the state through its same-sex marriage ban. Also addressed are invalidities in the research presented by opponents of same-sex marriage. In summary, the APA brief states that there is no scientific basis for distinguishing between same-sex couples and heterosexual couples with respect to the legal rights, obligations, benefits and burdens conferred by civil marriage.

Results

In June 2005, in a 2-1 opinion, New Jersey's Appellate Division ruled that the state's Constitution does not compel New Jersey to allow same-sex couples to marry. The court held that such a change in the marriage law should come from the legislature and not the courts. Because there was a dissenting opinion at the appellate level, the Supreme Court must accept the appeal.