Friday, December 15, 2006

New Jersey gets civil unions & I'm happy in a sad kind of way

By Diane Silver

The good news this week is that the New Jersey legislature has approved the creation of civil unions and the governor has said he will sign the bill. The bad news is that they approved civil unions and that, yes, the governor will sign this into law.

This weeks' vote came after the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that to deny lesbian and gay couples marriage, or something like it, is unconstitutional.

The very good news for New Jersey families headed by same-sex couples is that they will finally get approximately the same legal rights that heterosexuals take for granted. The Washington Post reports:
Among the benefits gay couples would get under New Jersey's civil unions bill are adoption rights, hospital visitation rights and inheritance rights.
This is why I'm jumping for joy for NJ families today. For too long our families have struggled under an unfair legal system that targets our children (no inheritance from one parent, the chance of being torn away from a loving co-parent if the biological parent dies) and ourselves (banned from the hospital room of a dying spouse).

Gaining these rights is far too important to quibble about whether our loving families are joined in unions or marriage.

But I have to admit to also being saddened by this news because what you call something matters. Committed same-sex couples are not just life partners, and they're certainly not unionized. They are, in fact, spouses. They are married.

The laws will not be fair until our relationships are acknowledged as marriage. The time to end our second-class citizenship is long past.


Mike said...

...and they're certainly not unionized

But are they civilized?


(rim shot!)

opit said...

I'm sometimes confused as a "gay rights" sympathizer just because I think equal treatment before the law is the cornerstone of a civil society.
That said, there is another principle at work here which I seldom find mentioned, to whit : marriage is also known as the Act of Holy Matrimony, a religious ceremony.
While it is surely right and correct to protect parental ability to have a family unit of whatever makeup people choose - I'm a bit looser than statutory limitations - it is not the business of the state to intrude on what is essentially a religious practice ( something which religious groups are responsible to choose ).
Believing that, I currently see New Jersey as walking a fine line and making the correct choice.