The differences between what New Jersey's domestic-partnership law can offer and what married couples routinely get is probably best illustrated by the case of Marilyn Maneely and Diane Marini. They are among the plaintiffs in the three-year-old case suing the state for Massachusetts-style full same-sex marriage.
Four months ago, Maneely found that she had Lou Gehrig's disease. As the article notes, not only would Marini not be eligible for Maneely's Social Security were the latter to die, but:
Health-care coverage is a big issue for the couple. For 13 years, Marini, who owns a construction business, had been on Maneely's health insurance plan as a domestic partner. But Maneely can no longer work as a nurse and is forced to buy into her current plan. Without being married, Marini cannot be insured that way and must find private insurance.The New Jersey law doesn't help at all. Of course, with Federal DoMA procedural restrictions, agencies are forbidden from extending marital benefits in such cases.
What Marini gets from the state is the right to visit her long-term partner in the hospital and the same inheritance exemptions for personal property that a spouse could claim.
Among the other theoretical benefits would be freedom from being compelled to testify against a spouse in court. New Jersey is one of five states that offer these minimal partner benefits.