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NJ Attorney General Takes Action Against Five Municipalities For LGBTQIA

NJ Attorney General Takes Action Against Five Municipalities For LGBTQIA

Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announces resolutions with Estell Manor, Fairview, Hanover, Linden, and South Toms River as part of the Marriage Equality Enforcement Initiative.

In a landmark move, Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division on Civil Rights (DCR) have settled enforcement actions against five New Jersey municipalities for allegedly discriminating against LGBTQIA+ individuals in the marriage licensing process.

The Marriage Equality Enforcement Initiative, spearheaded by the DCR, targets municipalities that publish exclusionary or discriminatory information on their websites related to marriage licensing. The five municipalities in question—Estell Manor, Fairview, Hanover, Linden, and South Toms River—had previously posted information that restricted marriage licenses to opposite-gender couples and excluded nonbinary individuals.

Under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), it is unlawful for places of public accommodation to discriminate on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and gender expression. The law also prevents these entities from communicating that certain services are unavailable based on these characteristics.

“Marriage is a fundamental right, and in New Jersey, marriage equality is the law,” stated Attorney General Platkin.

DCR Director Sundeep Iyer added, “Today’s resolutions reflect our ongoing commitment to ensuring that marriage equality remains a reality for our state’s LGBTQIA+ residents.”

Four of the municipalities—Estell Manor, Fairview, Linden, and South Toms River—resolved the matter through Assurances of Voluntary Compliance (AVC). These agreements entail a written policy against discrimination, removal of restrictive gender language from websites, express statements confirming the availability of marriage licenses to all gender compositions, financial payments to DCR, and employee training on LAD requirements.

Hanover Township was the sole municipality to resolve the matter through a Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA) after initially refusing to settle prior to litigation.

The discriminatory practices were first highlighted in the July 2022 joint report “Marriage Equality in New Jersey: A Latina/o/x Perspective,” issued by the Latino Action Network, Hudson P.R.I.D.E., and Garden State Equality.

The DCR continues to work towards eliminating discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression across various sectors, including housing and employment, as part of its broader mandate.

This enforcement action marks a significant step toward ensuring that all New Jersey residents have equal access to marriage licenses, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

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