- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 27, 2002

Lawyers for the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a national homosexual-rights group, yesterday filed a lawsuit against New Jersey officials on behalf of seven same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses in that state.
"The courts are like a candy store for gays. Whatever they want, they get," said Matt Daniels, executive director of the Alliance for Marriage, an organization that is pushing for passage of a constitutional amendment that would limit marriage to a union of a man and a woman and would preclude the U.S. Constitution, any state constitution, or any federal or state law from being interpreted differently.
In the civil suit filed yesterday in Hudson County Superior Court in Jersey City, Lambda said nine defendants, including state Commissioner of Human Services Gwendolyn L. Harris, violated the equal-protection clause of the New Jersey Constitution when it denied the 14 plaintiffs the right to apply for marriage licenses.
It did this, the legal fund said, by excluding the homosexual couples from benefits associated with being legally married, such as health-insurance benefits, spousal-inheritance rights and Social Security benefits upon the death of a spouse.
The goal of the lawsuit, Lambda officials said, is to give homosexual and lesbian couples the right to marry, so they are treated no differently than heterosexual couples.
"Today's lawsuit on behalf of the seven lesbian and gay couples, captioned Lewis et al. versus Harris et al., is based solely on the New Jersey Constitution. Therefore, the New Jersey Supreme Court will have the last word in the case," Lambda said in a statement at its Web site.
Heading up the list of plaintiff couples are Mark Lewis and Dennis Winslow, two Episcopalian ministers from Union City in Hudson County, who have lived as a couple for a decade.
The state of Vermont has already enacted domestic-partnership legislation that allows homosexual couples to enter into civil unions that resemble marriage. However, the New Jersey plaintiffs are seeking full marriage rights. According to Lambda, "all of them want and need the legal security that comes with marriage but has been denied them."
Lambda's decision to file the lawsuit in New Jersey was strategic. The group anticipates the case will wind up before the New Jersey state Supreme Court, which is among the most liberal benches in the nation.
Mr. Daniels of Alliance for Marriage says there is no question the homosexual activists will win their case in New Jersey. He predicts that early next year they will win a similar suit they filed in Massachusetts.
In an interview yesterday, he recalled how courts in both Hawaii and Alaska upheld homosexual "marriage." But citizens in those two states passed constitutional amendments that reversed what the courts had done, said Mr. Daniels.
"Gay activists have never lost a lawsuit at the level of a state supreme court," said Mr. Daniels. "Gays and lesbians have the right to live as they choose. But they don't have the right to redefine marriage for the entire society."
Mr. Daniels said polls show three-fourths of Americans oppose homosexual "marriages."
He said the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton, hasn't stopped the state lawsuits aimed at allowing homosexuals to "marry."
"The only vehicle that can achieve this [restricting marriages to men and women] is a federal constitutional amendment. That's our only option now," Mr. Daniels said.

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