Bill Text: NJ S1315 | 2018-2019 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: The "Full Marriage Recognition for Civil Union Couples Act"; recognizes certain civil unions as marriages dating back to inception of such civil unions.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 1-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2018-02-01 - Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Judiciary Committee [S1315 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2018-S1315-Introduced.html

SENATE, No. 1315

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

218th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 1, 2018

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  M. TERESA RUIZ

District 29 (Essex)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     The "Full Marriage Recognition for Civil Union Couples Act"; recognizes certain civil unions as marriages dating back to inception of such civil unions.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning civil unions and designated the "Full Marriage Recognition for Civil Union Couples Act," and supplementing Title 37 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

      1.   a.  The Legislature finds and declares that:

     (1)   In 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in Lewis v. Harris, 188 N.J. 415 (2006) that our State Constitution guarantees committed same-sex couples the same rights and benefits, and with them such corresponding burdens and obligations, as married opposite-sex couples;

     (2)   Thereafter, the Legislature established civil unions with the enactment of P.L.2006, c.103 (C.37:1-28 et al.) in order to provide committed same-sex couples all of the same rights, benefits, burdens, and obligations provided to married opposite-sex couples;

     (3)   This equality, however, ceased to exist in the wake of the June 26, 2013 decision in United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. 744, 133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013), in which the United States Supreme Court struck down section 3 of the federal "Defense of Marriage Act," 1 U.S.C. s.7, defining "marriage" as only a legal union between opposite-sex couples; while the decision meant the federal government could no longer deny federal benefits for same-sex married couples who were lawfully wed pursuant to their respective state laws, it did not extend this newly recognized equality to civil unions and other forms of marriage-like same-sex relationships established in New Jersey and other states;

     (4)   Recognizing the unconstitutional inequality now facing civil union couples in New Jersey who, because they could not marry, had no access to the variety of federal benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex married couples in this State, the Superior Court ruled in Garden State Equality v. Dow, 434 N.J Super. 163 (Law Div. 2013), that the State must allow same-sex couples to be married, and such marriages have occurred in this State since October 21, 2013;

     (5)   Since same-sex couples now have the right to marry, it is no longer necessary for such couples to solemnize their relationship with a civil union;

     (6)   However, while the right to be married is now enjoyed by all committed same-sex couples, those who previously joined in civil union prior to October 21, 2013 and henceforth are joining in marriage do not have any means to back date their marriage to the beginning date of their civil union, when these couples first joined in their recognized committed relationship intended by the Legislature to have all of the same rights, benefits, burdens, and obligations of marriage; and

     (7)   In order to completely fulfill the Legislature's intent of full marital equality, the Legislature is now taking action to grant retroactive marital status to such civil union couples.

      b.   On and after the effective date of this section, no new civil unions shall be established pursuant to P.L.2006, c.103 (C.37:1-28 et al.).

      c.    (1)  Partners in a civil union couple who seek to obtain a marriage license pursuant to R.S.37:1-1 et seq. on or after the effective date of this section shall not be required to pay any fee for the license, or be subject to the 72-hour waiting period set forth under R.S.37:1-4 before obtaining the license.

     (2)   (a) By operation of law, partners in a civil union couple from this or another jurisdiction, or the equivalent of a civil union couple entered into in another jurisdiction, who subsequently enter into a marriage between the same partners shall, after the solemnization of the marriage and upon the filing of the marriage license and certificate of marriage with the appropriate municipal clerk, whether the marriage occurred before, on, or after the effective date of this section, be deemed to be married as of the earlier date of their civil union or their civil union equivalent from another jurisdiction. 

     (b)   The partners may at any time obtain a marriage certificate with the date of the marriage amended to the earlier date of the civil union or the civil union equivalent from another jurisdiction, by providing proof of that earlier date to the municipal clerk where the marriage license was filed.

     (3)   Nothing in this section shall be deemed to invalidate agreed-upon terms of a prenuptial agreement pursuant to the "Uniform Premarital and Pre-Civil Union Agreement Act," R.S.37:2-31 et seq., or preclude persons from seeking or obtaining any equitable relief otherwise available to them in seeking a divorce or separate maintenance.

 

      2.   This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill, titled the "Full Marriage Recognition for Civil Union Couples Act," would, with respect to civil unions:

     - prohibit the formation of any new civil unions pursuant to P.L.2006, c.103 (C.37:1-28 et al.), since same-sex couples now have the right to marry, as stated in the Superior Court decision of Garden State Equality v. Dow, 434 N.J Super. 163 (Law Div. 2013);

     - permit existing civil union couples to obtain marriage licenses pursuant to R.S.37:1-1 et seq. without paying any license fees;

     - permit these couples to immediately marry by waiving the standard 72-hour waiting period before the marriage license is issued, as normally required under R.S.37:1-4; and

     - provide, by operation of law, that a civil union couple from this or another jurisdiction (or legally equivalent couple from another jurisdiction), who subsequently enters into a marriage together would, after the solemnization of the marriage and upon the filing of the marriage license and certificate of marriage with the appropriate municipal clerk, whether the marriage occurred before, on, or after the effective date of the bill, be deemed to be married as of the earlier date of their civil union.  The couple could also at any time obtain a marriage certificate with the date of the marriage amended to the earlier date of the civil union (or equivalent from another jurisdiction), by providing proof of that earlier date to the municipal clerk where the marriage license was filed.

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