As the Civil Union Law Takes Effect in New Jersey Lambda Legal Says: "We Now Pronounce You Engaged"

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"...for those couples who would rather be getting married we urge them to think of getting a civil union as getting engaged — engaged to each other and engaged in the fight for marriage equality."
February 19, 2007

(New York, February 19, 2007) — Lambda Legal, the organization that litigated the Lewis v. Harris lawsuit resulting in the civil union law, issued the following statement as the civil union law came into effect today:


“Though today we pause to congratulate the thousands of same-sex couples in New Jersey who are poised to get civil unions, tomorrow we vow to continue our fight for marriage equality for all those couples who would rather be getting married instead,” said David Buckel, Marriage Project Director at Lambda Legal and lead attorney on the Lewis v. Harris lawsuit. “In fact, for those couples who would rather be getting married we urge them to think of getting a civil union as getting engaged—engaged to each other and engaged in the fight for marriage equality.”


“While same-sex couples who choose to get a civil union are better off today than yesterday, they still aren’t equal,” Buckel added.


Lewis v. Harris Plaintiff Couple Plans:


Mark Lewis and Dennis Winslow (Union City): “We plan to get a civil union, but it will be very low key because while the protections are important it isn’t equality.”


Cindy Meneghin and Maureen Kilian (Butler): “We’re planning to have a ceremony to celebrate our civil union. While it isn’t the marriage we know our 32 years of love and commitment deserves, we plan to take advantage of the rights and responsibilities a civil union license will give our family. And we look forward to the time we will have full and equal rights through marriage.”


Saundra Toby Heath and Alicia Heath Toby (Newark): “We will have a civil union ceremony and a quiet celebration with our closest friends at a later date. We had a celebration of our love 7 years ago and shared that with our family and friends—for us that was more of a wedding celebration than getting a civil union will be."


Karen and Marcye Nicholson-McFadden (Aberdeen): “We plan to get a civil union, but it breaks our hearts that we are still denied full marriage equality. For us, it’s about protecting each other and our two young children. We know marriage equality isn’t far off and we will work to make it a reality.”


Chris Lodewyks and Craig Hutchison (Pompton Lakes): “Civil unions just don’t cut it when it comes to an expression of love. However, it would be foolish of us not to partake of the rights involved. We are really looking at it like a step toward marriage — we are officially engaged after 35 years together.”


Sarah and Suyin Lael (Dayton): “We are planning a civil union in March with immediate family and friends and are planning a larger gathering later to celebrate. But even after all that we know that we still aren’t considered equal in the eyes of our government.”


Diane Marini (Haddonfield): “Putting off equality will hurt countless same-sex couples. My partner Marilyn died before any real protections were put in place and as a result I couldn’t even sign the papers to donate her remains. She died knowing, and I live with the memory, that our government didn’t see us as equal to a married couple.”


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Lisa Hardaway 212-809-8585 ext.266; email: lhardaway@lambdalegal.org


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.

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