New Jersey has taken steps to protect marriage equality due to the US Supreme Court’s conservative majority.
According to a report from Gay City News (GCN), New Jersey’s Assembly Judiciary Committee passed their own marriage equality bill.
The decision was unanimous with a 4-0 vote and was created to codify the legislation into state law.
The NJ A5367 (20R) is now headed to the state legislature, which is expected to pass the inclusive law before the year’s end.
Since 2013, marriage equality has been legal within the Garden State through the result of a Superior Court ruling.
However, this new bill is the second attempt to codify same-sex marriage after the first was thrown out over the inclusion of religious exemptions.
Lauren Albrecht, who is the policy consultant for Garden State Equality, gave insight into why second bill was created.
“We have talked about this a few times in the past with our legislative allies,” she told GCN. “We can never be sure about anything. When it comes to equal rights for our community, we can’t leave it up for chance.”
New Jersey State Senate President Steve Sweeney echoed a similar sentiment in a statement to Politico and cited the current Roe v Wade controversy.
“If they can [potentially overturn Roe v Wade], same-sex marriage can be the next thing,” he said.
Assemblymember Valerie Vainieri, who pioneered the first and current proposal, also opened up about the bill and said she experienced pushback during the first attempt.
“At the time, I received considerable backlash for my support of the LGBTQ community, as did many of my colleagues,” she said.
“I am proud to once again be leading the charge to ensure that the rights of the LGBTQ community are safeguarded.”
Over the course of 2021, activists have been worried that the US Supreme Court will retract LGBTQ+ rights.
This is due to the court having a conservative majority, with six right-leaning justices currently serving.
Opposition towards marriage equality has also been seen by two of the court’s justices.
Back in 2020, Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas released a statement that slammed the Obergefell v Hodges ruling – which legalised marriage equality in the US.
Thomas said that decision has had “ruinous consequences” and has negatively impacted “religious liberty.”
The bill is set to be reviewed by the state’s upper house on 20 December.