The holding was perfect in its constitutional analysis:
HELD: Denying committed same-sex couples the financial and social benefits and privileges given to their married
heterosexual counterparts bears no substantial relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose. The Court holds
that under the equal protection guarantee of Article I, Paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, committed samesex
couples must be afforded on equal terms the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples under the
civil marriage statutes. The name to be given to the statutory scheme that provides full rights and benefits to samesex
couples, whether marriage or some other term, is a matter left to the democratic process.
Holding via Atrios
This is just one of four states now that has decided "equal protection under the laws" actually means equal protection.
Religious conservatives can hold out for a long time, but eventually, equal protection will be equal protection in all 50 states.
NJ court stops short of gay marriage OK
By GEOFF MULVIHILL, Associated Press Writer
TRENTON, N.J. - New Jersey's Supreme Court opened the door to gay marriage Wednesday, ruling that homosexuals are entitled to the same rights as heterosexuals, but leaving it to lawmakers to legalize same-sex unions.
The high court gave lawmakers 180 days to rewrite marriage laws to either include same-sex couples or create a new system of civil unions for them.
The ruling is similar to the 1999 decision in Vermont that led to civil unions there, which offer the benefits of marriage, but not the name.
"Although we cannot find that a fundamental right to same-sex marriage exists in this state, the unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our state Constitution," Justice Barry T. Albin wrote for the 4-3 majority's decision.
Outside the Supreme Court, news of the ruling caused confusion, with many of the roughly 100 gay marriage supporters outside asking each other what it meant. Many started to agree that they needed to push for a state constitutional amendment to institute gay marriage.