Thursday, December 14, 2006

New Jersey Gets Civil with Almost Marriage

This afternoon, the New Jersey legislature legalized civil unions. The AP reports that the Assembly passed it 56 to 19. The Senate followed a couple of hours later, at 23 to 12 in favor. The governor says he'll sign it.

This makes New Jersey the third state, following Vermont and Connecticut to offer civil unions. Full marriage was never an option following the state high-court mandate to provide marriage equality without specifying it.

Garden State Equality promises to continue pushing for full marriage.

While the legislature there would not provide marriage, it at least acted quickly enough to prevent repeal silliness as has gone on in Massachusetts. In both states, the high courts ordered a fix within six months. New Jersey will come in under two. The Massachusetts General Court has yet to act, just let the court ruling drive reality. Codifying the new marriage rights here might well have prevented the divisive amendment drives we have seen.

Unlike the aftermath of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling nearly four years ago, New Jersey citizens were ahead of the curve.A Zogby poll pegged public support for same-sex marriage at 56% for and 39% opposed.

The most positive spin came unsurprisingly from the chief sponsor:
"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."

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