New Jersey ponders gay marriage

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The New Jersey Supreme Court is expected to rule on the issue of same sex marriage later today.

In a press conference scheduled for 1700 EST (2200GMT), the court will announce its decision, sealing the fate of seven lesbian and gay couples and possibly opening up possibilities for others.

The case has been led through the courts by gay law equality group Lambda Legal since 2002.

The lawsuit represents seven lesbian and gay couples seeking full marriage rights. The words husband, wife, spouse, or some form of the word marry appear in more than 850 separate provisions of New Jersey law.

The seven plaintiff couples in the case have been together between 13 and 34 years. Five of the seven couples have children. All of them want and need the legal security that comes with marriage but has been denied to them.

Leading the list of plaintiff couples are Mark Lewis and Dennis Winslow, two Episcopalian pastors from Union City, Hudson County who have been a couple for 15 years.

In addition to Lewis and Winslow, the plaintiff couples in the case are Karen and Marcye Nicholson-McFadden, who have been together 16 years and are raising a six-year-old son, Kasey, and three-year-old Maya, Saundra Heath and Alicia Toby, who have been together 17 years and are leaders in Newark’s Liberation In Truth Unity Fellowship church, Craig Hutchison and Chris Lodewyks, who have been a couple for 34 years and live in Pompton Lakes.

It also inclludes Marilyn Maneely and Diane Marini, a southern New Jersey couple who were together for 14 years before Marilyn tragically died in the fall of 2005, Sarah and Suyin Lael, a 15-year couple raising three girls, eight-year-old Zenzali, six-year-old Tanaj and five-year-old Danica; and Maureen Kilian and Cindy Meneghin, a couple of 31 years with a 13-year-old son, Josh, and an 11-year-old daughter, Sarah.

It follows failed cases in state of California, New York and Washington.