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N.J. attorney general cites 28 towns for excluding some LGBTQ people from marriage license forms


N.J. attorney general cites 28 towns for excluding some LGBTQ people from marriage license forms

Mar 09, 2023 | 6:55 am ET
By Sophie Nieto-Munoz
N.J. attorney general cites 28 towns for excluding some LGBTQ people from marriage license forms
Attorney General Matt Platkin said the 28 municipalities would require non-binary people to misgender themselves under oath. (Dana DiFilippo | New Jersey Monitor)

Nearly 30 towns violated the state’s anti-discrimination law by publishing marriage license forms that exclude some LGBTQ+ people from properly filling out the applications, the Attorney General’s Office announced Wednesday.

Twenty-eight municipalities have posted online marriage license applications that do not have options for nonbinary people, which would require them to misgender themselves as either male or female under oath, Attorney General Matt Platkin said in a press release.

The towns that received violations:
  • Audubon
  • Carney’s Point
  • Chester Township
  • Commercial
  • Delran
  • Fair Haven
  • Farmingdale
  • Hi-Nella
  • Lopatcong
  • Lumberton
  • Manasquan
  • Milltown
  • Morris Plains
  • Morristown
  • Ocean Gate
  • Oceanport
  • Old Bridge
  • Pemberton
  • Pennsauken
  • Pohatcong
  • Raritan Borough
  • Stockton
  • Sussex Borough
  • Vineland
  • West Cape May
  • Westhampton
  • Westville
  • Woodlynne

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination prohibits places of public accommodation from discriminating on the basis of real or perceived sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and gender expression.

A sample marriage license form with a nonbinary option has been available on the state’s health department website since 2019, Platkin’s office noted.

“This is just another example of how LGBTQ people or gender non-conforming individuals have to conform to a heteronormative society,” said Christian Fuscarino, executive director of LGBTQ rights group Garden State Equality. “The government is not using language to see individuals for our true selves … requiring us to contort our identity to fit the fields that exist.”

The towns face fines of up to $10,000.

Platkin’s office said it issued violation notices to the municipalities that give them the chance to take a settlement offer and enter a voluntary compliance agreement. Under that, their websites would be updated to remove gender-restrictive language from their marriage license applications. The municipalities may also need to adopt anti-discrimination policies and provide training to employees.

The notices are the latest enforcement actions by the state’s marriage equality enforcement initiative, which launched in October. The initiative ensures New Jersey municipalities are using gender-inclusive and non-discriminatory language on their marriage licensing applications.

In July, the Latino Action Network found six municipal websites that stated two people must be of the opposite sex to get married. Same-sex marriage has been legal in New Jersey since 2013.

“Let us view this enforcement as a breath of fresh air, considering that countless states across our country are currently rolling back LGBTQ equality,” Fuscarino said.

Tennessee’s governor last week signed a bill into law making it a criminal offense for drag queens to perform where a minor is present. In Alaska, the state’s attorney general directed the civil rights agency to remove language from the state website promising protections for trans residents. And in Texas, lawmakers have introduced a slew of bills targeting LGBTQ people — limiting school lessons on sexuality and gender identity, restricting health care for transgender children, and limiting which college sports teams transgender students can join.

“Here, in New Jersey, we’re constantly looking on how to continue to improve,” Fuscarino said.