New Jersey Legislature Passes Civil Union Bill: Lambda Legal Says Fight for Marriage Will Continue
(Trenton, New Jersey, December 14, 2006) — After both the New Jersey Assembly and Senate voted to pass a civil union bill, Lambda Legal says same-sex couples are better off but not equal.
Statement from David Buckel, Marriage Project Director at Lambda Legal and lead attorney on the Lewis v. Harris marriage lawsuit:
“Although same-sex couples in New Jersey are better off today than yesterday, they are still not equal to other couples. Their relationships will likely continue to be disrespected. By passing a law that marks same-sex couples as inferior, the government has paved the way for others to discriminate against them.
Just as we saw happen with couples whose domestic partnerships were not recognized, so too are we likely to see similar hardships for couples in civil unions. It is important for those couples who encounter trouble to call the Lambda Legal Help Desk at 212-809-8585 x235 or toll-free at 866-542-8336.”
In its October decision the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously found that same-sex couples in New Jersey must have equal protection under the law and be granted the rights and responsibilities of marriage, but gave the legislature the opportunity to correct the violation. If the legislature chose civil unions over marriage, the Court left open the question of whether or not that choice would be constitutional, reasoning that the legislature should have the chance to explain its decision. The Court’s deadline expires on April 23, 2007.
In other news affecting the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, the New Jersey Legislature today passed a bill banning discrimination against individuals based on their gender identity and expression.
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.