The Glair - New Jersey Approves Gay Marriage (by any other name)
We’ve lost this in the more liberal areas of the country. This is one fight we will not win nationally, and as far as this aspect of the culture war is concerned, we can just admit the very evident fact that some states, primarily liberal and northern states, will adopt gay marriage as a de facto, if not outright legal, social condition.
Adoption of children by homosexual couples will increase dramatically in such states once the legal aspects become normalized there, and the populations, and especially the bureaucracies in those states become acclimated to the idea.
This will not be turned back in such states, rights, once granted, are almost never thereafter repealed.
Homosexual marriages and civil unions, or whatever terminology is adopted, will not become legal, or even commonplace in all states within the United States but I can confidently predict that some states will adopt this pattern as the norm.
Then comes the inevitable fight, in the Supreme Court, of whether the issue of homosexual marriage, or civil unions, is a State’s Rights issue, or a national and federal equal protection issue.
That will be the real fight.
That and the political fight.
N.J. legislature approves civil unions
Updated 12/14/2006 7:55 PM ET
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Ordered by New Jersey's highest court to offer marriage or its equivalent to gay couples, the Legislature voted Thursday to make New Jersey the third state to allow civil unions.
Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine said he would sign the measure, which would extend to same-sex couples all the rights and privileges available under state law to married people. The bill passed the Assembly 56-19 and the Senate 23-12.
"Love counts," Democratic Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo, a chief sponsor of the bill, said as the debate opened. "The gender of whom one loves should not matter to the state."
But Republican Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer said: "It's my personal belief, faith and religious practice that marriage has been defined in the Bible. And this is one time that I cannot compromise my personal beliefs and faiths."
Massachusetts is the only state to allow gay marriage. Vermont and Connecticut have civil unions, and California has domestic partnerships that work similarly. Since 2004 New Jersey has had a more limited version of domestic partnerships.
Among the benefits gay couples would get under New Jersey's civil unions bill are adoption rights, hospital visitation rights and inheritance rights. Officials could begin granting civil unions 60 days after the governor signs the legislation; Corzine did not say when he would do so.
The bill was drafted in response to a New Jersey Supreme Court ruling in October that required the state to extend the rights and benefits of marriage to gay couples within 180 days. The court, in its 4-3 ruling, left it up to the Legislature to decide whether to call such unions "marriages" or something else.
READ THE RULING: N.J. Supreme Court decision
Gay rights groups have argued that not calling such unions "marriage" creates a different, and inferior, institution. But they welcomed Thursday's legislation as a step toward gaining the right to marry.
Some lawmakers also considered Thursday's action to be an interim step on the way to full marriage rights.
"This should be called what it is — marriage." said Democratic Sen. Loretta Weinberg, a sponsor of the bill. She said the title should be changed after there has been some time to study how the civil unions bill works.
Steven Goldstein, director of the gay rights advocacy organization Garden State Equality, said he expects gay couples to be able to get married in New Jersey within two years.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Posted 12/14/2006 5:46 PM ET