Friday, December 15, 2006

New Jersey Update: Same-Sex Unions, But Not Marriage

If you remember my post from nearly two months ago, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples in the state are entitled to all the same legal rights and responsibilities as married couples, but they stopped short of demanding full marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. Some LGBT advocates celebrated the decision, while others called this a defeat. Some folks worried that this would help the GOP in November, while others thought that this would not affect the November election. Although the decision came only two weeks before Election Day, it seemed like this story just fell off the political radar within a week. Now, the story resurfaces as the Legislature decides how to implement the court decision.

Back in October, the court gave the Legislature the duty of fixing state law in this regard. However, they left open the option of expanding domestic partnerships to include all the same rights as marriage, as well as simply allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. Yesterday, the New Jersey Legislature chose the first option:
They're retooling their domestic partnership laws, but still no marriage. As would be expected, LGBT activists in the Garden State are kinda disappointed:

On Thursday the state legislature voted to allow same-sex unions but not full-on marriage, following a state supreme court ruling two months ago that preventing same-sex unions was unconstitutional.

Gay activists gave a qualified welcome Friday to the decision.

David Buckel from gay marriage law firm Lambda Legal said that although it marked a step in the right direction, stopping short of allowing marriage still deprived gay couples of full equality.

"Although same-sex couples in New Jersey are better off today than yesterday, they are still not equal to other couples," he said in a statement.

"By passing a law that marks same-sex couples as inferior, the government has paved the way for others to discriminate against them.... Their relationships will likely continue to be disrespected," he said.

Well, we win some and we lose some. Fortunately, New Jersey same-sex couples will now be treated, for the most part, the same as other couples in the state's eyes. Unfortunately, the Plessy v. Ferguson myth of "separate but equal" remains, that it's okay to treat LGBT folks differently from hetero Americans, so long as it's "equal"...
But as the civil rights struggle of the last century taught us, "separate but equal" never actually exists.

1 comment:

Marty said...

Separate is never equal.

Two men or two women are no more "equal" to one man and one woman than two apples are "equal" to one apple and one orange. Two left shoes are both "shoes", and they are "a pair", but they can never equal "a pair of shoes" now can they? Why? Because separate is NEVER equal.