Tiger of the Week: Hayley Gorenberg ’87 Leads a Challenge to New Jersey’s Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Same-sex couples in New Jersey received encouraging news last week, thanks in large part to the work of Hayley Gorenberg ’87, deputy legal director of Lambda Legal. Gorenberg represented the organization Garden State Equality and a group of six gay and lesbian couples and their children in a case that challenged New Jersey’s gay marriage ban. A judge ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor Sept. 27, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor and a 2006 N.J. State Supreme Court case, Lewis v. Harris.

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Hayley Gorenberg ’87 (Photo: Courtesy Lambda Legal)

The New York Times reported that Judge Mary C. Jacobson’s use of the Windsor ruling “could presage other successful challenges across the country.” But for the New Jersey couples involved in the case, the path to marriage will include at least one more barrier. John Jay Hoffman, New Jersey’s acting attorney general, told the State Supreme Court that Gov. Chris Christie’s administration would seek a stay to prevent same-sex marriage. In a statement released Oct. 1, Gorenberg vowed to fight the state’s efforts and enable same-sex couples to begin marrying on Oct. 21, the date set by Jacobson.

Gorenberg, a longtime advocate for LGBT rights, is not gay, but as she told PAW in a 2012 interview, “[I]t can be thought-provoking to ‘out’ myself as straight — it can trigger those who assumed I’m gay to contemplate that all of us can think about equality, and not just when our own rights are being directly repressed.”

In the same interview, Gorenberg said that while marriage equality is the most publicized legal issue for the LGBT community, it accounts for less than a quarter of Lambda Legal’s docket. “I do a lot of work addressing the school environment for young people perceived as LGBT or questioning their sexuality: anti-bullying, fighting harassment and discrimination, supporting curricula that promote respect for everyone,” she said.

Like many of our Tiger of the Week honorees, Haley Gorenberg ’87 was nominated by PAW readers. Do you have an idea for a future Tiger of the Week profile? Let us know.