Gay Marriage: Would Court Ruling Be Bad Timing? genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak

Same-sex marriage

With only two weeks until the midterm election and the GOP base appearing to lack sufficient motivation, could a ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court on same-sex marriage prove to be the catalyst the Republican Party has been seeking? 365gay.com is reporting that the court may issue its long awaited ruling on gay marriage this week. Should a ruling favoring same-sex marriage be issued this week, I would expect the GOP and evangelical leaders to herald the ruling as evidence that the base must get out and vote because the U.S. Supreme Court will in all probability have the final word on gay marriage and unless another conservative is appointed, the conservative movement may come up one justice short of their decades old goal.

(Trenton, New Jersey) The New Jersey Supreme Court is expected to issue its ruling this week on same-sex marriage, coinciding with the retirement of Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritz.

Portiz turns 70 on Thursday. Her last day on the bench will be Wednesday and both supporters and opponents of gay marriage say they believe the ruling will be issued before then.

Some legal experts, however, suggest that the ruling will not be handed down until after Portiz's successor, James R. Zazzali, is sworn in.

The justices heard arguments in the case in February.

A New Jersey appeals court ruled in June 2005 that the state constitution does not require the recognition of same-sex marriage.

The court, in a split decision, said that it is up to the legislature to change marriage laws if same-sex couples are to wed in the Garden State.

At the Supreme Court the justices peppered both sides in the case about whether the court or the legislature should be the proper venue for the issue.

It was the same question that led the high courts in New York and Washington state to rule earlier this year that the legislatures had the right to decide.

My own perception is that the court won't issue a ruling this close to the election...but it may well happen. With the state in the midst of a hotly contested Senate race and the possibility that control of the House and the Senate could shift on November 8th, it seems unlikely that the court would want to be accused of releasing a controversial ruling that could be misconstrued as partisan act or used by any particular group for political advantage. Regardless, we will have to wait and see.

Daniel DiRito | October 23, 2006 | 9:21 AM
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