🔴 Five towns had language on their websites offering marriage licenses only to opposite-sex couples

🔴 The towns were issued violation notices last year

🔴 Four of the towns voluntarily complied


TRENTON — Five towns accused of discriminating against LGBT couples applying for marriage licenses have agreed to update their websites with more inclusive language so people of all genders can tie the knot.

The state Division of Civil Rights notified the towns last year that their websites violated the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, Attorney General Matthew Platkin said.

Language on their websites made marriage licenses exclusive to persons who were of the opposite sex. The issue was first raised in a July 2022 report issued by the Latino Action Network, Hudson PRIDE Center, and Garden State Equality.

“Our laws forbid discrimination in marriage licensing and other basic government services on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation, and no government here in New Jersey should stand in the way of that basic promise of equality,” said DCR Director Sundeep Iyer.

Estell Manor marriage license document as of Oct. 6, 2022. (Screengrab)
Estell Manor marriage license document as of Oct. 6, 2022. (Screengrab)
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To remedy the violation, the DCR required each town to take five actions including:

🔴 "Create a written policy prohibiting discrimination against persons seeking to use the municipality’s services;
🔴 "Remove gender restrictive language regarding who may obtain a marriage license from its website, including language restricting marriage licenses to people of binary genders or to opposite gender couples;
🔴 "Update its website to expressly state that marriage licenses are available to qualifying applicants of all gender compositions, including applicants seeking licenses for same-gender or same-sex marriages and non-binary applicants;
🔴 "Agree to make a payment to DCR; and
🔴 "Train all employees involved in drafting website language and in issuing licenses on the requirements of the LAD."

One NJ township resisted state's orders

Four of the towns voluntarily complied with the DCR including Estell Manor in Atlantic County, Fairview in Bergen County, Linden in Union County, and South Toms River in Ocean County.

Hanover was "initially unwilling" to take the same corrective actions, according to the Attorney General's Office.

However, the township agreed to take the same steps after the DCR filed an administrative complaint. The litigation ended with Hanover and the DCR resolving the issue through a Negotiated Settlement Agreement requiring the township to take the same five steps as the other townships.

Hanover Township website on 10/19/23 (Screengrab)
Hanover Township website on 10/19/23 (Screengrab)
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