TRENTON – Same-sex marriages have been happening in New Jersey since 2013 – but there’s no law making them legal, just a Superior Court ruling that wasn’t appealed.

The Assembly Judiciary Committee voted Thursday for a bill that would finally codify it.

Attorney Bill Singer said he’s asked all the time by same-sex couples if their marriages are secure – and can’t give them an unqualified yes. Just as the state-level right was established through a court decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for same-sex marriage in 2015.

“However, since that decision at least two or three of the present justices of the U.S. Supreme Court have questioned that decision and called for its reversal,” said Singer, creator and director of the LGBT Family Law Institute.

And if that’s reversed, like it appears could happen to abortion rights under Roe v. Wade?

“Their right to marry hangs from the slenderest thread of a single judicial decision by a trial court judge,” Singer said. “That’s precarious.”

The bill advanced by a 5-0 vote. The companion bill in the Senate hasn’t gotten a hearing.

“This is a historically significant bill,” said Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti, D-Hudson. “It’s not enough to rely on the courts in invalidating a discriminary law.”

“The fact is that the statutes of our state have never caught up to the court decisions or to the law in effect today, which no longer treats same-sex couples as second-class citizens,” said Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, D-Hudson.

One member of the public spoke against the bill: Gregory Quinlan, founder and president of the Center for Garden State Families, who said he’s an ex-gay and that codifying such marriages is like having the government endorse a faith-based religion.

“No one is born is born gay. The science is zero,” Quinlan said. "And so for that reason, there is no justification to codify homosexual marriage or any of the sundry identities that have been put out in the last several years."

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Mukherji called Quinlan’s testimony “abhorrent and hateful.”

“I think your comments are three fries short of a Happy Meal,” Mukherji said, “but I do respect – “

“That’s a very hateful,” Quinlan interrupted, “that’s a hate – why would you be so hateful towards my comments?”

Michael Symons is State House bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5. Contact him at michael.symons@townsquaremedia.com.

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