A New Jersey bill introduced Friday would require the state to recognize same-sex marriages from other states, a response to the U.S. Supreme Court's overturning this week of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
The Court's decision meant that the federal government must extend federal benefits to couples in states where gay marriage is legal, but it left in place a part of the law that allows states to choose if they want to recognize same-sex nuptials from other states. The New Jersey bill would extend legal status and full benefits to out-of-state gay marriages there, though it would not fully legalize same-sex marriage.
“The tide of public opinion has shifted dramatically in support of marriage equality and the legal decisions are following,” said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg, one of the bill's sponsors, in a statement. “We will continue to fight for the civil right for gay and lesbian couples to marry but, until we succeed, this will at least provide acceptance to legal marriages elsewhere.”
Out-of-state gay marriages are currently considered civil unions in New Jersey, according to the Senate Democracts' office. The state issues civil union licenes to same-sex couples, but Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill that legalized same-sex marriage in February 2012.
New York and Rhode Island are two other states that had recognized same-sex marriages from other states, though they have since gone on to legalize gay marriage altogether. New Jersey is the first state to introduce such a law after this week's Court ruling.