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Thread: New Jersey court recognizes right to same-sex unions

  1. #1
    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    Default New Jersey court recognizes right to same-sex unions


    New Jersey court recognizes right to same-sex unions

    From Rose Arce

    TRENTON, New Jersey (CNN) -- The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the state's constitution gives gay and lesbian couples all the rights of married heterosexual couples.

    But the court left it to the state legislature to decide what to call the relationship.

    It gave lawmakers 180 days to either include gay and lesbian couples in the state's existing marriage laws or grant those rights under the title civil unions. (Watch a couple say why they want to call their 32-year relationship marriage -- 2:01)

    The decision mirrors the one made in 1999 by Vermont's highest court, which allowed gay and lesbian couples all the rights of marriage but left it to the legislature to decide how to grant them. (Opinion -- pdf)

    The next year the Vermont Legislature chose to call such relationships civil unions, and a firestorm of controversy ensued around the country.

    In its 4-3 ruling, the New Jersey court said, "The issue is not about the transformation of the traditional definition of marriage, but about the unequal dispensation of benefits and privileges to one of two similarly situated classes of people."

    Lawyers for the seven New Jersey gay and lesbian couples in the case had argued that the New Jersey Constitution's guarantee of liberty and equality allows them to marry.

    The plaintiffs' lawyers said that for gay and lesbian couples to have true equality the institution must bear the same name.

    Opponents fear the national impact of the decision because New Jersey currently imposes no residency requirements for people to be married in the state.

    They worry that gay couples from around the country will come to the state, create unions and go back and challenge their home state laws.

    "This is a repeat of what happened in Vermont," said Matt Daniels of Alliance for Marriage, which supports a federal constitutional amendment barring marriages between people of the same sex.

    "They took the future of marriage out of the hands of the people of New Jersey. They are holding a gun to the head of the legislature of New Jersey and saying pick between two bullets -- one that allows civil unions and one that allows marriage."

    In its decision, the New Jersey court said the state Constitution demands that "committed same-sex couples must be afforded on equal terms the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples under the civil marriage statutes.

    "The name to be given to the statutory scheme that provides full rights and benefits to same-sex couples, whether marriage or some other term, is a matter left to the democratic process."

    The court said the state's existing Domestic Partnership Act, similar to one adopted in several other states, including California, doesn't go far enough in protecting the rights of gay couples.

    "The Domestic Partnership Act has failed to bridge the inequality gap between committed same-sex couples and married opposite-sex couples," the court said.

    "Significantly, the economic and financial inequities that are borne by same-sex domestic partners are also borne by their children.

    "Further, even though same-sex couples are provided fewer benefits and rights by the act, they are subject to more stringent requirements to enter into a domestic partnership than opposite-sex couples entering a marriage."

    The issue of gay marriage has roiled American politics for over a decade.

    The debate intensified in 2004 when Massachusetts became the first and only state to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. The state does not allow nonresidents to marry there, however.

    Afterward, six other states granted same-sex couples most marriage rights, under the terms civil union or domestic partnership.

    Massachusetts marriages are not recognized by the federal government or 45 other states that have laws banning same-sex marriages.

    The issue won't end with the New Jersey decision.

    On November 7, voters in eight states will decide whether to amend their constitutions to ban gays from marrying. Court challenges in four states seek the right to marry.

    Among the New Jersey couples that filed the lawsuit are Episcopal pastors Mark Harris and Denis Winslow. They said each of them has performed so many weddings they've lost count, but the wedding they dream of attending is their own.

    "We see it as a civil right that we're denied," Winslow said. "Even though we pay first-class taxes, we are treated as second-class citizens. We don't have that freedom to exercise our relationship in a practical way, dare I say, spiritual way."

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  2. #2
    Elite Member moomies's Avatar
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    a happy news

    But the court left it to the state legislature to decide what to call the relationship
    But are they going to name it something else other than "marriage" ?

    If you think it's crazy, you ain't seen a thing. Just wait until we're goin down in flames.

  3. #3
    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    'wake Up The Rest Of The United Staaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaates!!!!!!!!'

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