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Proposed legislation in New Jersey would protect interracial marriage in 2023

Published Tuesday, Dec. 13th, 2022


Lawmakers in New Jersey have introduced new legislation to explicitly protect interracial marriage rights in the state, and ensure that all NJ marriage laws be read with race neutral intent. 


If passed, Assembly Bill 4939 would amend a state law on marriage and civil union to read: 


37:1-1.  Marriages and civil unions.

c.  Laws concerning marriage and civil union shall be read with gender and race neutral intent.


See all New Jersey Marriage Laws here


In addition to codifying this protection for interracial couples, the bill also clarifies the state’s position on race and marriage rights with the following declarations: 


"1. (New section) The Legislature finds and declares that New Jersey has never enacted a statute prohibiting marriage between persons of different races and, accordingly, has never had to reverse invidious discrimination in marriage or civil union status on the basis of race.


The Legislature further finds and declares that the right to marry or enter into a civil union with a person of any race, including the same or a different race, is a fundamental right and that race shall not be declared to be a prohibiting factor.


2. (New section) The State, any governmental entity, or any other institution shall not infringe on the fundamental right of a person to marry or enter into a civil union with a person of any race."



According to the bill’s sponsor, Representative John McKeon (D), passing this amendment is necessary to protect the marriage rights of interracial couples in the state, following the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Org., which overturned Roe v. Wade and eliminated the constitutional right to an abortion. 


“Given the risk that other personal decisions, currently protected under the federal constitution, could be returned to individual states for determination, including the right of persons of different racial or ethnic backgrounds to marry, it is prudent to protect interracial marriage in New Jersey statutory law.


This bill declares the right of a person to marry or enter into a civil union with a person of any race is fundamental and that race is not a prohibiting factor.” (Statement, AB 4939)


The Supreme Court’s decision is concerning to many marriage rights advocates because it suggests that other personal decisions protected by the constitution, including the decision of who to marry, could be returned to individual states for determination if Loving v. Virginia or Obergefell v. Hodges are also overturned. These cases rely on the same principles used in Roe v. Wade, and could be equally vulnerable to future decisions by the Supreme Court. 


Related: What overturning Roe v Wade could mean for Marriage Equality


Assembly Bill 4939 is sponsored by NJ Rep. McKeon (D) and was introduced on Dec. 5, 2022. It has been referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee. Read the full bill text here. 






A Look at Loving Day – 
A Celebration of Love & Interracial Marriage



Historic black and white photograph of the Loving family, taken with their children outside on the porch

The Loving Family

Cover image via, Credit: The Free Lance-Star/AP Photo, cropped from the originial.


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Conviértase en un Oficiante de Bodas en New Jersey


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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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