MONTCLAIR, NJ – On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court held that same-sex couples can no longer be denied the freedom to marry guaranteed by the Constitution, assuring that all committed couples will be able to marry throughout the United States. Consequently, various local and state leaders have come out in support of the decision, releasing official statements.
On Monday, Essex County Freeholder Vice-President Brendan Gill released a statement praising last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision on marriage equality. He said, “This Supreme Court ruling is not only historic for equality in the LGBT community, but for all Americans,” stated Gill. “This decision affirmed that marriage is a fundamental right for all under our Constitution, allowing loving, committed families to live with the dignity and freedom they deserve. I was proud to partner with Garden State Equality in helping to voice Essex County’s opposition to Gov. Christie’s veto back in 2013 of legislation that would have allowed for same-sex couples to marry. I stand committed to continue fighting for the full protections that are long overdue for LGBT Americans so our nation can fulfill its promise of equality for all."
In 2013, Gill was joined by members of the Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders in calling for a new vote in the statehouse to override Christie’s refusal to sign legislation that would have made New Jersey amongst the first states in the nation to extend the right to marry to same sex couples. Gills efforts helped make Essex only the second New Jersey county to legislatively voice its opposition to Gov. Christie’s veto.
Essex County is also the first county in the New Jersey to appoint an LGBTQ advisory board. The 13-member advisory board considers issues of concern to lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people.
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry said, "With the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, the justices affirmed what a super-majority of Americans had come to understand: the freedom to marry is a precious, fundamental right that belongs to all, and that same-sex couples and our families share the same dreams and needs as any others."
Senator Nia H. Gill (D-Essex and Passaic) calling the ruling "...a momentous stride towards equality and civil rights and I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision for preserving the basic human right to be treated with dignity and respect."
She continued, “As Supreme Court Justice Kennedy stated in his ruling, this is about granting ‘equal dignity in the eyes of the law’ to all citizens of the United States. While we are far from winning the fight against discrimination in all of its forms, it is clear that our Constitution grants and protects equal rights for all; marriage is no exception.”
Montclair-based organization, Garden State Equality leaders were overjoyed with the decision.
"There are hardly words to describe how excited we are," says GSE Executive Director Andrea Bowen. "Marriage equality is a constitutional right. We're honored that New Jersey was a leader in the marriage equality movement, and we're simply elated to see the rest of the country join us in celebrating love and justice."