I’m about to get political 🙂
New Jersey’s highest court opened the door Wednesday to making the state the second in the nation to allow gay marriage, ruling that lawmakers must offer same-sex couples either marriage or something like it, such as civil unions.
In a ruling that fell short of what either side wanted or most feared, the state Supreme Court declared 4-3 that gay couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual ones. The justices gave lawmakers 180 days to rewrite the laws.
The ruling is similar to the 1999 high-court ruling in Vermont that led the state to create civil unions, which confer all of the rights and benefits available to married couples under state law.
“Although we cannot find that a fundamental right to same-sex marriage exists in this state, the unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our state Constitution,” Justice Barry T. Albin wrote for the four-member majority.
The court said the Legislature “must either amend the marriage statutes to include same-sex couples or create a parallel statutory structure” that gives gays all the privileges and obligations married couples have.
The three dissenters argued that the majority did not go far enough. They demanded full marriage for gays.
I’m sure everyone has heard about today’s ruling. At this point the NJ legislature has 180 days to figure out what to do. They basically have three options as far as I can tell:
1) Give gays and lesbians full marriage rights and call it marriage.
2) Give gays and lesbians full marriage rights and call it marriage, but pass a law limiting marriage in NJ to NJ residents.
3) Give gays and lesbians full marriage rights, but call it civil unions.
Call me pessimistic but I find it hard that they will grant #1 because NJ has no law making it illegal for out of staters to be married here. Thus it could create a problem for other states, even if they have a DOMA like law on the books. They sure as hell won’t pass #2 as NJ can’t give up the draw of Atlantic City and “Las Vegas” style weddings. Therefore we’ll probably end up with #3, civil unions.
You know what? If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck just call it a duck! I find it ridiculous to make a separate but equal marriage for gays and call it civil unions. Honestly what is the point? To try and appease the religious right? Pffft! If civil unions carry the same rights and privileges as marriage than every excuse for banning gays from marrying still hold true for giving them civil unions. Far too many times I’ve heard someone say “I’m against gay marriage because it opens the door to things like polygamy or marrying children. However I do support civil unions.” What a circular argument, as if the person didn’t even consider polygamists or pedophiles would argue for civil unions. The only reason I can fathom for saying one supports civil unions but not gay marriage is religion. I thought we had freedom of religion in this country? Several religions support gay marriage you know!
I think Wanda Sykes said it best in her last HBO special “If you don’t believe in same-sex marriage then don’t marry someone of the same sex!”