As Governor Corzine Signs New Jersey Civil Union Law, Lambda Legal Launches Civil Union Watch
(New York, December 21, 2006) — In an effort to ensure that same-sex couples in New Jersey are treated fairly under the new civil union law set to be signed today by Governor Corzine, Lambda Legal has launched ‘Civil Union Watch’, an advocacy and monitoring program.
“The law isn’t even in effect yet and already we’re seeing news reports of mayors planning to discriminate against same-sex couples,” said David Buckel, Senior Counsel at Lambda Legal and lead attorney on the lawsuit that resulted in the October court decision and ultimately to today’s civil union law. “In the two years that the domestic partnerships have been in place we’ve seen the hardships faced by some same-sex couples, and we’re prepared to continue to help couples navigate the pitfalls of a government-sanctioned second-class status.”
“And outside New Jersey, it might surprise same-sex couples in New York to know that they may be far better off taking a plane to Canada to get married than hopping a train to New Jersey for a civil union. In New York there has been widespread respect for same-sex couples’ marriages entered in Canada, but far less respect for civil unions putting couples who are seeking protections at greater risk for hardship,” added Buckel.
Lambda Legal’s Civil Union Watch includes:
- A guide to frequently asked questions for same-sex couples in New Jersey. The document includes details of the process for getting a civil union license as well as issues to consider as couples decide if getting a civil union is right for them. It also provides Lambda Legal’s Help Desk information for couples whose civil unions aren’t respected. Those couples should call Lambda Legal’s Help Desk at 212-809-8585, toll-free at 866-542-8336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Educating the public about the civil union law. Lambda Legal will be scheduling community briefings and distributing publications to foster further awareness of the impact of the civil union law and the benefits and risks involved for couples who may get one. For example, New Jersey couples’ civil unions from Connecticut or Vermont are already respected under the law and entering another civil union may create problems in the event the couple separates.
- Prevention or resolution of discrimination through legal advocacy. In lieu of or before litigation becomes necessary Lambda Legal will advocate for the proper interpretation and application of the new law. For example, Lambda Legal helped a lesbian couple after hospital staff refused to respect their domestic partnership. Once the hospital’s attorney was made aware of the scope of the law their relationship status was honored. Lambda Legal will also urge that the implementation of rules and regulations specifically called for in the new law be as protective and inclusive as possible, such as confirming that California’s domestic partnerships will be honored as civil unions in New Jersey.
- Preparation for litigation. Where prevention or advocacy cannot resolve discriminatory actions that disrespect a couple’s civil union, Lambda Legal will bring appropriate legal action.
Lisa Hardaway 212-809-8585 ext.266
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.