Wednesday, October 25, 2006

NJ Supreme Court's Ruling on Gay Marriage

So, big surprise, the NJ Supreme Court is legislating from the bench. We have to give the benefit of marriage to gays but we can call it what we want. Thanks, Supreme Court for allowing us to call it what we want. Oooh, don't we feel so powerful.

I'm sorry but I don't think that the men who wrote our state's constitution would agree with this ruling:

New Jersey's Supreme Court opened the door to gay marriage Wednesday, ruling that homosexuals are entitled to the same rights as heterosexuals, but leaving it to lawmakers to legalize same-sex unions.

The high court gave lawmakers 180 days to rewrite marriage laws to either include same-sex couples or create a new system of civil unions for them.

The ruling is similar to the 1999 decision in Vermont that led to civil unions there, which offer the benefits of marriage, but not the name.

"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 4-3 majority's decision.


Garden State Equality, New Jersey's main gay and lesbian political organization quickly announced Wednesday that three lawmakers would introduce a bill in the Legislature to get full marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Gay couples in New Jersey can already apply for domestic partnerships under a law the Legislature passed in 2004 giving gay couples some benefits of marriage, such as the right to inherit possessions if there is no will and healthcare coverage for state workers.

Democratic Gov. Jon S. Corzine supports domestic partnerships, but not gay marriage.

Supporters pushing for full gay marriage have had a two-year losing streak in state courts including New York, Washington, and in both Nebraska and Georgia, where voter-approved bans on gay marriage were reinstated.

They also have suffered at the ballot boxes in 15 states where constitutions have been amended to ban same-sex unions.
Since our legislature already gave them inheritance rights and healthcare benefits, what rights are they being denied? And how in the world would they be entitled to the benefits of marriage when we call it civil union? In the eyes of the nation, they wouldn't be married. What would be the benefit of a civil union? I didn't read the decision and I don't have time to do so but I wonder if the court specified what are the benefits of marriage.

When I saw that the decision was 4-3, I thought for a second that maybe we had some sanity left in NJ but then immediately I thought they probably wanted to go further and I was right:
The media's describing this as a 4-3 decision, but that's misleading. The three dissenters didn't object to the main ruling that marriage rights should be extended to gay couples; on that point, it was 7-0. What they objected to is the fact that the court gave the legislature a choice of labels instead of forcing them to include gay unions under the rubric of "marriage." I.e., the dissenters were even more radical than the majority.
Read more here.

Here's a summary of the legal stuff.