Wednesday, October 25, 2006

New Jersey court recognizes right to same-sex unions

via CNN

TRENTON, New Jersey (AP) -- New Jersey's Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that same-sex couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples.

But the court left it to the Legislature to determine whether the state will honor gay marriage or some other form of civil union.

Advocates on both sides of the issue believed the state posed the best chance for gay marriage to win approval since Massachusetts became the only state to do so in 2003 because the New Jersey Supreme Court has a history of extending civil rights protections.

Instead, the high court stopped short of fully approving gay marriage and gave lawmakers 180 days to rewrite marriage laws to either include gay couples or create new civil unions.

"The issue is not about the transformation of the traditional definition of marriage, but about the unequal dispensation of benefits and privileges to one of two similarly situated classes of people," the court said in its 4-3 ruling.

New Jersey lawmakers voted to allow domestic partnerships in 2004, but they have been reluctant to delve into the sensitive issue of marriage.

Under domestic partnerships, gay couples have some benefits of marriage, such as the right to inherit possessions if there is no will and healthcare coverage for state workers. (more)

Finally, some sanity prevails in this country.

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