LGBTQ Rights in New Jersey

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LGBTQ Rights in New Jersey

A recent study found that New Jersey is a great place for LGBTQ persons to live because of the state’s recognition of them. The state is a leader in ensuring their equality and continues to be at the forefront of civil rights today.

Conversion Therapy

Conversion therapy is the practice of trying to change a child’s sexual orientation from gay to straight. In 2013, New Jersey outlawed this practice for minors. It has since survived three attempts to challenge the law in the U.S. Supreme Court on religious freedom grounds. The court has repeatedly refused to hear the case, leaving the law intact.

Employment

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination prohibits discrimination and harassment against LGBTQ persons. Under the law, employers cannot refuse to hire, refuse to promote, fire, or pay less money to a person based on their gender orientation or expression.

Healthcare

New Jersey has a comprehensive law prohibiting private insurance and Medicaid from discriminating against the LGBTQ community. It makes the following unlawful:

  •         Denying, canceling, limiting, or refusing to issue or renew an insurance policy.
  •         Requiring a higher premium based on a person being transgender or their gender identity or expression.
  •         Considering an LGBTQ person to be a preexisting condition.

Education

Discrimination is prohibited in all endeavors. For example, LGBTQ persons may play sports. They can also choose to use the locker room for the gender with which they identify.

Gender Marker Updates on Identification Documents

Since 2019, LGBTQ persons may request a modified birth certificate with a requested name and gender, even if they haven’t undergone any sex-change procedures.

Official documents, as of September 2019, contain a third gender designation, labeled as “X.”

Since 2020, they can change the gender identification on their driver’s license without a physician’s note.

Housing

The law prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ persons in housing. For example, a person cannot refuse to rent an apartment to someone based on their gender orientation or expression.

Marriage Equality

LGBTQ persons can marry other LGBTQ persons or heterosexuals. When they decide divorce is necessary, their dissolution is treated just like a heterosexual divorce. Child support and alimony are also treated the same.

However, the law on divorce and other matters is more complicated if you had a civil union or domestic partnership before 2013. Assistance from an attorney is recommended in this situation.

Restroom Use

LGBTQ persons are allowed to use the restroom that corresponds to their identified gender or expression.

School Anti-Bullying

The bullying of LGBTQ students is illegal. The law requires schools to have policies in place to prevent such bullying and to take action if it is observed.

Criminal Defense

In the recent past, defendants have raised panic about or anger at a person’s gender identity as a defense in murder cases. They successfully used it as a heat of passion defense to get the charges reduced from murder to manslaughter. New Jersey prohibited this in 2020.

Federal Rights

While most people in New Jersey are well-covered by the state’s anti-discrimination laws, there are times when the federal government gets involved. Historically, our national leaders have lagged behind their state counterparts in LGBTQ rights. However, things are changing, and much of the progress is directed by court decisions. So, today, here are some rights that LGBTQ persons have under relevant federal laws:

  •         Social Security. LGBTQ persons have the same rights as others to spousal survivor and retirement benefits and the $255 surviving spouse lump-sum death benefit.
  •         Taxation. Rights include:

o   Filing joint income tax returns

o   Creating a family partnership

o   Estate planning benefits

o   Estate tax portability

o   Life estate trusts like QTIP and QDOT.

  •         Veteran and Military Benefits. The spouses of deceased veterans enjoy numerous benefits like death pensions, home loan guarantees, and bereavement counseling.
  •         Employment Benefits. More than 22 million people work for the federal government, many of them in New Jersey. Several employment benefits are tied to marital status, like health insurance and worker’s compensation.
  •         Immigration. Many of the benefits of immigration rely on marital status. For example, a non-citizen may obtain permanent residence when married to an American citizen.

Consult with Us Today

Many rights historically denied to LGTQB persons are now available thanks to several established and recent New Jersey laws. However, while improving, the rights of these persons are still in flux at the federal level. If you have any questions about LGTQB rights as they relate to family law, including divorce, child support, or alimony, DeTorres & DeGeorge Family Law is here to help. Call us today at 908-691-2104 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. We have offices in Clinton and Morristown.

Erin D. DeGeorge
Erin D. DeGeorge joined DeTorres & DeGeorge, LLC as partner to the firm in June of 2010. Prior to joining DeTorres & DeGeorge, Erin was associated with the national firm of Fox Rothschild LLP and Cutler, Simeone, Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, LLC...
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