Wednesday, October 25, 2006

New Jersey Goes Gay for Equal Rights, Bigots Bewail

I want to thank the New Jersey Supreme Court for having the balls to understand its state constituion promotes the equal rights of all citizens. Via the NYTs:
The State Supreme Court in New Jersey said today that same-sex couples are entitled to “the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples under the civil marriage statutes.”

But the court, in its 4-3 ruling, said that whether that status should be called marriage, or something else, “is a matter left to the democratic process.”

The court’s eagerly awaited decision found that an arrangement akin to that in Vermont, which authorizes civil unions between same-sex couples but does not call them marriages, would satisfy the New Jersey constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

The court gave the legislature a six-month deadline to enact the necessary legislation to provide for same-sex unions with rights equal to those of married couples.
I used to jokingly call New Jersey "the armpit of the United States," but now I have new found respect for those four justices that demonstrated principle should never bends before politics or prejudice. I hope gay rights groups understand this is a victory and do not start fighting semantics. Civil unions are as good as marriage as long as gay and lesbian couples have the same rights as "married" couples -- meaning they can share healthcare, pass property, etc. Maybe it's time to define marriage as an exclusively religious term and promote state sanctioned civil unions for both heterosexual and homosexual couples as different than marriage. This would also preserve the separation of church and state if you believe, like I do, marriage is religious by nature. That way religious conservatives can keep marriage for themselves and the rest of us can go about living our lives with whom we choose to.