For Immediate Release:

 

For Further Information:

spacer

spacer

spacer

January 11, 2007

 

Lee Moore or David Wald
609-292-4791

Office of The Attorney General
- Stuart Rabner, Attorney General

spacerspacer

spacer

spacer

spacer

spacer

spacer

spacer

AG Issues Advice on Civil Union Law, Clergy
Letter Says Anti-Discrimination Law Applicable to Mayors, not Religious Figures

spacer

 

spacer

Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.
spacer

spacer

spacer

spacerspacer

spacer

spacer

TRENTON -- Attorney General Stuart Rabner today issued written advice to the State Registrar of Vital Statistics concluding that, once a New Jersey law authorizing civil unions takes effect on February 19, members of the clergy may legally decline to perform civil union ceremonies if doing so would conflict with "sincerely held religious beliefs."

Writing to help ensure uniform statewide practices, Rabner reiterated earlier advice that no public official is compelled by law to perform either marriages or civil unions, but that those who choose to perform marriage ceremonies must also be available to perform civil unions or face possible legal action for violating the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD).

The Attorney General noted, however, that the LAD does not apply to the administration of religious rites by clergy members.

"As a result, there is no statutory bar to a member of the clergy declining to solemnize civil unions in accordance with sincerely held religious beliefs, even though that religious figure regularly solemnizes marriages," the Attorney General wrote in a seven-page opinion letter to Registrar of Vital Statistics Joseph Komosinski.

According to Rabner, discriminatory treatment of same-sex and mixed-gender couples by mayors and other public officials would "raise significant equal protection concerns under the State Constitution."  However, the Attorney General noted that clergy members "should not be viewed as public actors in these circumstances" and that "a religious ceremony is not necessary for the solemnization of either a marriage or a civil union."

The Attorney General thanked Assistant Attorney General Patrick DeAlmeida for his work on this matter.

 

 

A copy of the legal opinion is available on the Attorney General's website at: www.nj.gov/oag/newsreleases07/pr20070111a.html

 

Send mail to email@gaypasg.org with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright 1998 - 2008 Gay & Lesbian Political Action & Support Groups
Last modified: August 10, 2011 by Outstanding Web Stuff