Judge rules against Ocean Grove church in civil union dispute

TRENTON - (AP) - A judge has ruled that a church group violated the state's discrimination laws when it prevented a lesbian couple from holding a civil union ceremony on its property.

The legal battle dates back to 2007 when the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association stopped the couple from using its boardwalk pavilion.

Administrative Law Judge Solomon Metzger wrote in yesterday's ruling that the pavilion area was a public space that advertised itself as a wedding venue without any mention of religious preconditions. He rejected the church's contention that the pavilion was an extension of its wedding ministry.

The church argued that its freedom of religious expression was being violated.

Attorneys representing the church said in a release that they were reviewing the decision for a possible appeal.

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