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I am so happy for my LGBT friends who now have their marriages recognized by the federal government.

I wish I could join you in celebrating.  But I am not able to do that…because of a word.

Remember that time?  It's only a word.  What difference does the name make?  Some of the people on the left said the same thing.

Back in 2006 New Jersey's Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples were fully entitled to "the rights and privileges of civil marriage."  But the justices said at the time that they would leave to the "democratic process" what to call those rights.  

With an extreme lack of foresight, New Jersey's legislators enacted its civil unions law.

The Legislature has chosen to establish civil unions by amending the current marriage statute to include same-sex couples.  In doing so, the Legislature is continuing its longstanding history of insuring equality under the laws for all New Jersey citizens by providing same-sex couples with the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples who choose to marry.

Setting aside the fact that it didn't really provide those of us with civil unions "the same rights and benefits" then, it certainly doesn't provide them now.  Since our unions are not marriages, we are not eligible to access those 1138 benefits that our married peers will be able to take advantage of.

It says right there in the act, in Section 2:

Parties to a civil union shall receive the same benefits and protections and be subject to the same responsibilities as spouses in a marriage.

And then there is Section 4a:

Parties to a civil union shall have all of the same benefits, protections and responsibilities under law, whether they derive from statute, administrative or court rule, public policy, common law or any other source of civil law, as are granted to spouses in a marriage.
But it is likely all a lie.  If I take my civil union documents to the federal government, they are not going to treat it like a marriage.
The highest court in the land has made it clear there is only one kind of marriage, and that it remains the gold standard of human pairings. Civil unions are to marriage as powdered milk is to cream — a weak and unsatisfying substitute.

--Kathleen O'Brien, The Star-Ledger

And my LGBT friends in Colorado, Hawaii, and Illinois are going to be in the exact same position.
I hear from legislators all the time, who are on the fence or are pro-equality but haven’t voted that way in the past, who are looking for a new external reason.  They’re proactively mentioning DOMA.

--Stephen Goldstein, Garden State Equality

I believe marriage is an institution between one man and one woman.  I think it’s special and unique in society and I think we can have civil unions that help to give the same type of legal rights to same-sex couples that marriage gives them but I just think marriage is a special connotation.  I couldn’t change my mind on that but I am in favor of making sure that homosexual couples have the same type of legal rights that heterosexual couples have.

--Chris Christie

It's just another example of judicial supremacy rather than having a government run by the people we actually vote for.  I thought it was a bad decision, but it has no effect on New Jersey at all so we move from here.

--Chris Christie

Even in the face of the absolute fact that civil unions are not worth the same as a marriage, I fear neither Chris Christie, who vetoed our latest marriage equality bill, nor the state legislature, which could still override that veto, is likely to act in our favor.

I'll be the first to apologize if I am wrong in that analysis.

A state judge has scheduled a hearing on August 15 on a motion to force the state to recognize same-sex marriages in light of the SCOTUS ruling on DOMA.

New Jersey barring marriage and only allowing civil unions is all that's keeping people from their federal rights.

--Hayley Gorenberg, Lambda Legal, attorney for several couples challenging the state law

This is a game-changing moment.  We have the Supreme Court of the United States saying that that the Constitution prohibits discrimination against LGBT couples when it comes to recognition of marriage benefits.  What that means is that New Jersey’s civil union system, which was unfair for many years, is now even worse.

--Udi Ofer, ACLU

Ofer, speaking from the ACLU's Newark Office, declared that New Jersey's civil unions amount to a "separate and unequal system."
For that reason, New Jersey is now ground zero for the next big battle on marriage equality, because of our civil unions.


My state senator, Dick Codey, chimes in with this:
The Supreme Court ruling affirms what Americans know is true: that marriage equality is a basic right that should be available to everyone.  The country is moving in the right direction on gay rights and it is past time that New Jersey offers all of its citizens equal rights, equal protection under the law and equal opportunities in marriage.  The day is coming when same-sex marriage will be legal in New Jersey, we should continue to fight to realize that day as soon as possible.

Originally posted to LGBT Kos Community on Thu Jun 27, 2013 at 07:31 AM PDT.

Also republished by Kossacks for Marriage Equality.

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