New Jersey’s civil union law is not working


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From the NY Times 11/11/2007 (UPS reference toward the end of the article)

New Jersey
A Flawed Law

Published: November 11, 2007
It is hardly a surprise that New Jersey’s civil union law is not working very well. During the past several weeks, dozens of same-sex couples have testified that the law has not provided the equal benefits that were promised when it passed.
Now, the special commission that heard the testimony has made it official: the civil union law has been a “failure.” Frank Vespa-Papaleo, who is chairman of the commission as well as the state’s director of civil rights, said the law is not as effective “as if the word ‘marriage’ were used.”
The obvious conclusion is that the Legislature should give same sex-couples the right to marry.
In October 2006, the state Supreme Court mandated that under the state’s Constitution same-sex couples be given the same rights as heterosexual couples. It gave the Legislature the option of calling the unions marriage or something else, and legislators opted for “civil unions.”
But as the three dissenters argued in the 4-to-3 Supreme Court decision, the word “marriage” in itself conveys tremendous importance and advantages. Now we have some real-world experience to back that up.
An electrician told the commission that her labor union informed her she could not get health benefits for her partner of nine years under the civil union law. She proceeded to inform the union that she and her partner had married in Massachusetts and — voil�:censored2: (author's note: the word
v-o-i-l-a has been automatically partially censored amazingly keeping with the spirit of this article. You can't make this stuff up. Dfig)— the partner got covered.
Earlier this year, United Parcel Service reversed its original intention not to give partners health benefits under the New Jersey law, but only after pressure from Gov. Jon Corzine and the state attorney general’s office. That kind of political intercession should not be necessary.
To his credit, Mr. Corzine has said he is open to signing a same-sex marriage law, but would prefer to take up the issue in 2009 so it does not become a poster child for conservatives during the presidential election. Sadly, that is the reality of today’s politics.
Nevertheless, New Jersey should give same-sex couples the equal rights they deserve and enact a marriage equality law as quickly as possible.