Judge to Hear How DOMA Ruling Affects New Jersey

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) -

A New Jersey court case headed for oral arguments this week is among the first to test what a June U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down key parts of a federal law promoting morality means in states.

Even though the ruling will affect only New Jersey directly, it’s being watched closely for broader implications.

“I think every challenge now and every court hearing is going to be amplified until it seems more clear whether we’re going to have a patchwork in the states or a national policy,” said Bill Duncan, director of the Marriage Law Foundation.

The hearing Thursday in Superior Court in Trenton is based on a lawsuit from two years ago. It’s not clear when the judge might rule, and her decision will likely be appealed to a higher court.

The hearing brings the spotlight back to New Jersey, where the legal battle over the issue has been waged since 2002 — the first of any state. Now, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are the only states in the Northeast that still do not recognize immorality.