The New Jersey Supreme Court wrote in a decision
released yesterday that,
"[a]lthough 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."The more I think about that decision the less I like it. The Court ruled that the either the expansion of marriage to include same-sex couples or allowing same sex couples to form civil unions which would give them all the same rights as a married couple.
While it is encouraging to see another state realize that gay couples deserve to be treated equally, it's alarming to see judges, people who should understand the fundamental flaw of 'separate but equal', decide that providing same-sex couples with something other than real marriage.
I have heard other people make the argument that the government shouldn't be involved in 'marriage' at all. These people argue that all couples, regardless of sex, should be 'civil unions' in the eyes of the state and that 'marriage' should be left to churches that can decide individually whether they want to marry same-sex couple.
While the idea held some appeal for me for a while, it has a vague feeling that it wouldn't really raise the rights of same-sex couples up to the level of opposite-sex couples so much as it would lower every body's rights. I don't really know if that's true, but I can hear the crazies spouting off about how the 'homosexual agenda' is trying to say that you're not married anymore.
Same-sex couples MUST be have the right to marry, not civil union-ize.
If this is a first step towards that goal, then I support the Court's decision. If this is an effort to 'throw a bone' to the gay community in the hopes that it will pacify them, then I withhold my support.
Turing to the political ramifications of the Courts decision, I'm not sure what to think. Coming just 13 days before a midterm election, the effects on both N.J. races and races across the nation could break either way.
For Democrats, there is no real down side to this decision. If anything, 'good news' might energize progressives to get to the polls. Social Conservatives, on the other hand, could break either way. Either they will be demoralized and stay home (they already feel that BushCo. and the Republicans haven't done enough to stop this sort of thing) or it will drive up fundie voter turn-out.
We'll have to wait and see.
New Jersey Supreme Court Gay Marriage Civil Unions