As activists for both sides rallied outside, the lawyer for seven same-sex couples yesterday urged the New Jersey Supreme Court to declare they have a right to marry -- not just to form second-class civil unions -- and to base that ruling on the state constitution.
"This is a historic case for civil rights in New Jersey," David Buckel, a lawyer with the gay rights organization Lambda Legal, told the justices.
A lawyer for the state countered with an argument that has carried the day in two lower courts: Only the Legislature can make such a radical change to the millennia-old definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Gay couples "have to take their claims to the legislative and executive branches and compete in the democratic process," said Assistant Attorney General Patrick DeAlmeida.
For just over an hour, the seven justices listened to the arguments and questioned both lawyers. As usual, the court reserved decision.
It was a day of high-stakes litigation poker, with neither side hedging its bets. Buckel insisted on full marriage equality for same-sex couples. DeAlmeida was equally insistent that only the Legislature can grant it, staking his entire case on that argument.
It will likely be months before a decision is reached. We can only hope they make the right one. All people are equal, and everyone deserves the equal protection described under the law.
Jay over at Lassiter Space went to the rally outside the court on Wednesday. His post about the rally and the arguements is here. From what I've read, the progressives and civil rights proponents are cautiously optimistic about the decision; keep your fingers crossed!