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Old 12-15-2006, 09:07 AM   #1
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NJ to allow civil unions

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TRENTON, N.J. - Under pressure from New Jersey's highest court to offer marriage or its equivalent to gay couples, the Legislature voted Thursday to make New Jersey the third state to allow civil unions.

Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine said he would sign the measure, which would extend to same-sex couples all the rights and privileges available under state law to married people. The bill passed the Assembly 56-19 and the Senate 23-12.

"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."

But Republican Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer said: "It's my personal belief, faith and religious practice that marriage has been defined in the Bible. And this is one time that I cannot compromise my personal beliefs and faiths."

Massachusetts is the only state to allow gay marriage. Vermont and Connecticut have civil unions, and California has domestic partnerships that work similarly.

Among the benefits gay couples would get under New Jersey's civil unions bill are adoption rights, hospital visitation rights and inheritance rights.

Gay rights advocates welcomed the legislation as a step forward but said they would continue to push for the right to marry.

The bill was drafted in response to a landmark New Jersey Supreme Court ruling in October that required the state to extend the rights and benefits of marriage to gay couples within 180 days. The court, in its 4-3 ruling, left it up to the Legislature to decide whether to call such unions "marriages" or something else.

Gay rights groups have argued that not calling such unions "marriage" creates a different, and inferior, institution.

Steven Goldstein, director of the gay rights advocacy organization Garden State Equality, said he expects gay couples to be able to get married in New Jersey within two years.
Good. Only 46 (or 45 if you count CA) to go.
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Old 12-15-2006, 09:17 AM   #2
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Old 12-15-2006, 09:33 AM   #3
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Old 12-15-2006, 09:34 AM   #4
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and something will happen in NY soon. the general trend is that while most of America isn't ready for the word marriage, a majority support civil unions. look for the traditionally more educated, liberal states to pass loads of civil union bills in the next 5 years and the traditionally less educated, reactionary states (places that might be deemed ... backwards) will take another 50 years.

also, while homophobic anti-marriage equality amendments did pass in 2006 in 6 of 7 states (props to the people of AZ!) they were passing by percentages in the mid-50s, nowhere near the upper 60s we saw in 2004. it's dying as a wedge issue, it is not the new abortion, and the younger you go, the more pro-gay voters are. and note that it passed the Assembly by a vote of 56 to 19, and the Senate by
23 to 12.

in fact, all the anti-marriage equality folks are going to be left with are theocratic dictates and know-nothingisms more fitting of a mullah in Iran like we saw from this assemblyman:

[q]But Republican Assemblyman Ronald S. Dancer said: "It's my personal belief, faith and religious practice that marriage has been defined in the Bible. And this is one time that I cannot compromise my personal beliefs and faiths."[/q]

so, anyway, happy about rights and it's nice that a gay couple is now considered almost 3/5ths of a straight couple.

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Old 12-15-2006, 10:10 AM   #5
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One concern I have is that eventually, after the 50 year period it might take to get civil unions accepted through most of the country, how hard will it be to convert civil unions into full marriage rights? Will most people just be willing to let the progress stop there, or will there be so little opposition that equality will be easy to achieve?
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Old 12-15-2006, 10:15 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Varitek
or will there be so little opposition that equality will be easy to achieve?
I'm thinking this will be the case. People will be unwilling to allow this kind of discrimination to continue, so it will be addressed.
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Old 12-15-2006, 10:18 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Varitek
One concern I have is that eventually, after the 50 year period it might take to get civil unions accepted through most of the country, how hard will it be to convert civil unions into full marriage rights?


my understanding is that civil unions are a step -- you get civil unions, and people benefit, straights see it's not such a big deal, and then you work through the courts to make the case that civil unions aren't an equal alternative and that marriage is really the only way to honor the equal protection clause.

baby steps.

i'm fine with it.

what i'm most concerned about, at this point, would be hospital visitation rights, power of attorney, inheritance, and adoption rights. that's what matters to me right now. i am lucky in that my friends afford me the same status and respect as any heterosexual couple, though it would be nice to get that from society at large. however, it's practical matters that i'm most concerned with.

while i have a boyfriend and not a partner, yet, i can see a time in the future where i might have to draw up a set of legal contracts to protect us, and to protect what we have worked for, from my boyfriend's family. they have been kind to me and they love him very much, even if they've made their Baptists beliefs known and used them to torture him in ways i don't think they totally understand, but there's both a class issue (he makes way more than they do combined) and the fact that i'm never going to be the equal of, say, his sister's husband in their eyes. if we don't protect ourselves, and say he dies in a car wreck, what's to prevent them from barring me from having any say in the funeral, or from taking his share of our theoretical condo/house?

we haven't crossed this bridge yet, so i'm not totally fluent in the language and intricacies of the law, but i'm already seeing just how important it is to get some basic rights as a couple first, and we'll work on the whole "respect us as much as anyone else" a bit later.
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Old 12-15-2006, 10:28 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511

my understanding is that civil unions are a step -- you get civil unions, and people benefit, straights see it's not such a big deal, and then you work through the courts to make the case that civil unions aren't an equal alternative and that marriage is really the only way to honor the equal protection clause.
I'd rather have ALL unions recognised by the state be called civil unions and if a couple wants to have a religious service let that be called a marriage (or whatever the particular church wanted to call it). I think it's a little more defined that way.
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Old 12-15-2006, 11:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by indra


I'd rather have ALL unions recognised by the state be called civil unions and if a couple wants to have a religious service let that be called a marriage (or whatever the particular church wanted to call it). I think it's a little more defined that way.
Actually, I agree with this.
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Old 12-15-2006, 01:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by indra


I'd rather have ALL unions recognised by the state be called civil unions and if a couple wants to have a religious service let that be called a marriage (or whatever the particular church wanted to call it). I think it's a little more defined that way.
I agree with this.
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Old 12-15-2006, 01:22 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511



so, anyway, happy about rights and it's nice that a gay couple is now considered almost 3/5ths of a straight couple.

Yes, now only 2/5ths more to go. This is a great thing, for all gay people out there, and hopefully, slowly but surely, all , or most of the homophobia in the US will die out. I know that will take a long time, but I think that it may happen. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 12-15-2006, 03:45 PM   #12
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i think homophobia will always exist, like racism or sexism, but hopefully we can stamp out homophobia and discrimination in our laws.

people are free to think whatever they want about my relationship and the fact that i'm a man who finds men with muscles and names like Daniel Craig really attractive; you just can't discriminate against me on account of that.
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Old 12-15-2006, 10:54 PM   #13
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Very true, people shouldn't discriminate againist you, or any gay people for that matter. But, at lease, we have our families, friends, and of course, other gay people who we can lean on whenever we're feeling down.
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Old 12-15-2006, 11:54 PM   #14
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Wow, this is great news. I'm glad to know not all of the US is regressing.

Quote:
Originally posted by indra
I'd rather have ALL unions recognised by the state be called civil unions and if a couple wants to have a religious service let that be called a marriage (or whatever the particular church wanted to call it). I think it's a little more defined that way.
That sounds like it would be a better way of doing things.
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Old 12-16-2006, 12:30 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by indra

I'd rather have ALL unions recognised by the state be called civil unions and if a couple wants to have a religious service let that be called a marriage (or whatever the particular church wanted to call it). I think it's a little more defined that way.
I understand that point and I think I even agree with it, but if you look at jurisdictions where gay marriage exists and is called that - marriage - like Canada, for example, nothing has changed! And the population has really gotten used to the idea to the extent that the Conservative government said that this issue was essentially permanently closed (like our abortion issue).

So we do have precedent and we can see that hell hasn't broken loose just because we started calling a civil union marriage.
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Old 12-16-2006, 04:54 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511


...
while i have a boyfriend and not a partner, yet, i can see a time in the future where i might have to draw up a set of legal contracts to protect us, and to protect what we have worked for, from my boyfriend's family. they have been kind to me and they love him very much, even if they've made their Baptists beliefs known and used them to torture him in ways i don't think they totally understand, but there's both a class issue (he makes way more than they do combined) and the fact that i'm never going to be the equal of, say, his sister's husband in their eyes. if we don't protect ourselves, and say he dies in a car wreck, what's to prevent them from barring me from having any say in the funeral, or from taking his share of our theoretical condo/house?

...
I dont want to pry, and really dont intend this as a personal response to you, but what are your concerns mainly about? An ordinary 'pre-nup' kind of deal, or the same legal rights as anyone else? I'm not sure if i either dont understand what your concerns actually are, or if you will end up with a situation which is different to the majority hetero circumstance, in the 'god forbid' territory.
I guess it just seems your concerns are akin to any others where there's personal politics in the extended family dynamic. If civil unions gain you precisely the same legal freedoms and restrictions as heteros, then welcome to marriage.
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Old 12-16-2006, 07:52 AM   #17
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*** DISCLAIMER****

I want it PERFECTLY understood that I am raising questions that have been pestering me for a long time. This reply is NO WAY indicates that I am anti-gay. I have respect for love in any form. My reply addresses purely the LEGAL aspects of same-sex unions.

++++++

Where do we draw the line???

I'm in no way anti-gay but there has to be a line drawn between conventional definitions of marriage and non-conventional definitions.

Marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman and has been this way for thousands of years. You can't just one day decide to change this definition to suit a certain lifestyle just the way you can't take a buffalo and suddenly decide that it's a dog. It's as simple as that.

What would happen if one day advocates of beastiality decide that they want to recognize a union between a man and his horse? For that matter, why are they prosecuting Warren Jeffs for being a polygamist? He thinks what he's doing is right and that there's nothing wrong with a man having numerous wives.

I have no problem with same-sex unions and I agree that two people who have committed themselves to each other should have some rights as to social security, insurance, adoption, etc. However, I don't believe that these unions should be defined as "marriage", and I think that same-sex unions should be granted rights that are different than the rights for conventional married couples.
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Old 12-16-2006, 10:02 AM   #18
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John Stewart totally shares your concerns, and I was going to link to his hilarious clip making fun of people like you, but since google bought youtube youtube has been useless.

Seriously what rights, different than conventional married couples, should same sex couples (not) be granted? And your association of homosexual relationships with bestiality DOES in fact imply that you have a twisted, dare I say anti-, view of what it means to be gay.
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Old 12-16-2006, 10:47 AM   #19
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A person unlike a dog can consent, and that goes for polygamists too.
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Old 12-16-2006, 12:21 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by Angela Harlem


I dont want to pry, and really dont intend this as a personal response to you, but what are your concerns mainly about? An ordinary 'pre-nup' kind of deal, or the same legal rights as anyone else? I'm not sure if i either dont understand what your concerns actually are, or if you will end up with a situation which is different to the majority hetero circumstance, in the 'god forbid' territory.
I guess it just seems your concerns are akin to any others where there's personal politics in the extended family dynamic. If civil unions gain you precisely the same legal freedoms and restrictions as heteros, then welcome to marriage.


as it stands right now, in the state of Virginia which just passed a really, really draconian law, i have no status to my boyfriend other than being his friend. as of right now, that's fine -- we're not yet domestic partners. but if we moved in together, bought a house/condo together, and acted as if we were in a marriage together, this is all meaningless in the eyes of the state of Virginia -- i have no legal power over "our" money, over "our" condo, or over decisions regarding his health and this would include hospital visitation rights. thorugh his company, i could get on his health insurance (and, as a freelancer, that's a big deal for me), but that's only because his company does their benefits through their New Jersey branch. in Virginia, there's no status for domestic partners; health benefits offered through employers are for spouses ONLY, you must be legally married in the eyes of the state of Virginia to receive benefits. before this law passed, it was up to the individual employer whether or not to extend health benefits to domestic partners -- and most of the Fortune 500 comanies do this now, any major corporation understands the need to attract and retain diverse talent. however, this new law makes one wonder if such a company were based in Virginia if the offering of such benefits is now a violation of the law since there's a ban on any legal contracts "approximating" those of marriage.

it's pretty fucked up in VA.

also, there are many, many stories i hear from older gay men who have had long term partners with vengeful, spiteful families who, upon the untimely death of one of the couple, have swooped in and seized all of the assets belonging to the deceased half of the couple, and sometimes the family will even bar the partner from visiting the sick/dying partner in the hospital. it happens.

a civil union would give each partner essentially the same legal recognition as the spouse of a heterosexual; that's what i'm most concerned with -- protecting what we might one day work together towards (a house, a 2nd home, a retirement fund) from immediate family members who might use my lack of legal status to push me aside and seize 50% of all of that, or if they would use my lack of legal status to prevent me from making decisions about his health in a Terri Schiavo situation.
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