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NJ DCR launches initiative to protect marriage equality after 5 towns violate marriage license laws

Published Thursday, Oct. 20th, 2022

Increased protections for marriage equality in New Jersey



The Division on Civil Rights (DCR) and N.J. Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced the launch of a new marriage equality enforcement initiative last week, to protect the right of LGBTQ+ couples to marry anywhere in the state, following evidence of discrimination in five New Jersey towns.


The Marriage Equality enforcement initiative will ensure that all NJ municipalities provide equal access to marriage licenses for all couples, regardless of applicants’ sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. 


Related: Same-Sex Wedding Ceremony Script with Reflection on Marriage Equality


The initiative was launched following an investigation of discrimination against same-sex and nonbinary marriage license applicants in five NJ towns: Fairview, Estell Manor, Linden, Hanover, and South Toms River. In these locations, city websites published information stating that marriage licenses were only available to opposite-sex couples, or specifically excluded nonbinary applicants. 


The discriminatory language was first called out in July, 2022, in a joint report published by the Latino Action Network Foundation advocacy group (LANF), the Hudson PRIDE Center, and Garden State Equality, and later investigated by the DCR. (via Essex News Daily)


“It is unlawful for places of public accommodation in New Jersey to post or display communications restricting access to services based on protected characteristics,” DCR Deputy Director Rosemary DiSavino stated as part of the announcement, adding that “We will not tolerate LGBTQIA+ discrimination or any gender-based discrimination, and will do everything in our power to ensure that all 564 municipalities comply with the [Law Against Discrimination].”



Each of the five municipalities was issued a violation notice as part of the DCR’s enforcement initiative. To comply with the law, they are required to “update their websites to expressly state that marriage licenses are available to qualifying couples of all gender compositions,” and provide accurate information from the NJ Department of Health’s Application for License: Marriage, Remarriage, Civil Union or Reaffirmation of Civil Union and the DOH’s Same Sex Marriage FAQs. (via N.J. AG’s Office)


They are also required to update their written policies pertaining to nondiscrimination, including LGBTQIA+ discrimination, and provide training to all municipal employees writing content for their website or issuing marriage licenses, along with other actions. 


“Marriage equality is the law here in New Jersey,” Attorney General Platkin stated. “But when municipalities use language indicating that individuals cannot obtain a marriage license based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, they violate that basic promise.”


“The Marriage Equality enforcement initiative we announce today reflects our deep commitment to ensuring that, in both word and deed, municipal governments do not discriminate against couples seeking marriage licenses on the basis of sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or gender expression.” (via N.J. AG’s Office


Get the full scoop in the N.J. Attorney General’s Oct. 6th public announcement.





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Illustration of happy young diverse LGBTQ people, by artist Jessica Levey

Illustrated by Jessica Levey

From the article: Tips on Gender & Pronouns for Inclusive Wedding Officiants


Simple advice for wedding officiants on creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for LGBTQIA+ couples, with tips on using correct pronouns, gender neutral language, questionnaires and more.

Learn more here.


Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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