HomeDelran NewsNo one can be denied a marriage license

No one can be denied a marriage license

Officials cite municipal websites for exclusionary applications

Delran was one of 28 municipalities issued a notice for violating a state law against discrimination by allegedly publishing marriage license application forms on municipal websites that excluded some LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual) individuals, according to U.S. Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division on Civil Rights.

The application form is “inconsistent with the marriage license application currently published by the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH), which has included a third gender option for nonbinary applicants and other people with undesignated or unspecified gender identities since 2019,” said a March 8 press release from the state attorney general’s office.

- Advertisement -

The municipalities involved have posted marriage license application forms that “do not permit nonbinary people to apply for marriage licenses unless they misgender themselves, under oath, as either M (male) or F (female),” according to the release.

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) prohibits places of public accommodation from discriminating on the basis of real or perceived sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and gender expression. It also makes it unlawful for a place of public accommodation to display or post any communication or notice indicating that any of their offerings are unavailable based on a person’s sexual orientation, gender and other factors, according to the release.

“Marriage equality is not just the law, it is a fundamental right,” Platkin said. “The marriage equality enforcement actions we are announcing today reflect our continued commitment to ensuring that municipal governments do not discriminate against couples seeking marriage licenses on the basis of their gender, gender identity or gender expression.”

Sundeep Iyer, director of the civil rights division, said the law is “crystal clear.”

“No one can be denied the fundamental right to marry based on their gender identity,” he explained. “Municipalities have an obligation to ensure that they are not excluding LGBTQIA+ individuals from applying for marriage licenses.”

The violation notices are the latest enforcement actions taken as part of the civil rights division’s Marriage Equality Enforcement Initiative launched in October. The initiative ensures that municipal governments across the state comply with the LAD by providing gender-inclusive and non-discriminatory marriage licensing applications and instructions.

The “discriminatory language” used by municipalities to describe marriage licensing requirements was first flagged in Marriage Equality in New Jersey: A Latina/o/x Perspective, a joint report issued last July by the Latino Action Network, Hudson P.R.I.D.E. and Garden State Equality.

The report found that the towns’ websites violated the LAD by limiting marriage licenses to “opposite-sex couples.” The civil rights division investigation identified other discriminatory language employed by the municipalities, including the exclusionary gender options identified in the violation notices, the press release said.

The notices warn each municipality that the marriage license application form published on their websites violates the LAD and could result in financial penalties of up to $10,000.

The notices also contain an offer of settlement. If the municipality does not contest the facts as set out by DCR, it can resolve the matter by entering into an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance Agreement. The agreement requires, among other things, that each municipality perform certain actions, including:

  • Updating its websites to state that marriage licenses are available to qualifying couples of all gender compositions.
  • Ensuring a website does not contain gender-restrictive language regarding who may obtain a marriage license or who benefits from municipal services.
  • Adopt a written policy prohibiting discrimination against persons using or seeking to use the municipality’s offerings and services.

Stay Connected

- Advertisment -

Current Issue