The New Jersey Supreme Court’s holding in Lewis v. Harris set in motion an inevitable collision between New Jersey law and several federal statutes, chief among them the Internal Revenue Code (Code) and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). Lewis v. Harris, 188 N.J. 415 (2006). The Court held that “denying rights and benefits to committed same-sex couples that are statutorily given to their heterosexual counterparts violates the equal protection guarantee” of the New Jersey Constitution and directed the Legislature to provide a remedy.
In his majority opinion, Justice Barry Albin notes that under N.J.S.A. 34:11A-20(b) (enacted by �57 of the DPA), “an employer is not required to provide health insurance coverage for an employee’s domestic partner.” He failed, however, to note that ��47-56 of the DPA required any insurance plan, policy or contract delivered, executed or renewed in New Jersey on or after the effective date of the DPA that provides health benefit coverage to dependents to offer the same coverage to domestic partners. Since most people receive their medical benefits through such insurance contracts, there is not the dearth of health coverage of domestic partners that Justice Albin’s statement would suggest.
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