New Jersey Civil Union Bill Advances
Despite desire from activists that "marriage" be included in the language of a bill legalizing same-sex unions in New Jersey, a civil union bill was approved by a Senate Judiciary committee without such a definition on Monday. The bill has moved too swiftly, without enough consideration, said figures from both sides of the debate.
Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Linden objected to the language, saying "society has an obligation to gay rights" according to the Courier Post: "This is gay marriage. To call it anything else is a farce. People are gay. They exist in society."
Sen. Gerald Cardinale, R-Demarest, whose response to the Supreme Court mandate was to draw up a bill declaring marriage between a man and a woman, said the bill discriminated against non-gays such as senior siblings who reside together. He added: "We're in a hurry to get this behind us because it's a political hot potato. We're changing a basic fabric of society. We should take the time to do it right."
The issue now heads to the full Senate for a vote as the State Assembly has already approved it.
Said Garden Equality chair Steven Goldstein: "Is it better than nothing? Sure. We are not going to rest until we have marriage for gay couples."
The bill may find its way to Governor Jon Corzine, who says he prefers the language "civil union" over "gay marriage", as soon as Thursday. Once signed, the bill would establish same-sex unions in New Jersey by the end of the year, as mandated by the state Supreme Court.
Some ministers and public officals have begun to raise objections to performing same-sex civil unions once they are legalized. This would most likely place them in violation of New Jersey's anti-discrimination law.
Said Mayor Steve Lonegan of Bogota: "No! I'm not doing it! They're not going to force me to do civil unions. They're going to have to put a gun to my head. Even then it's going to be a challenge."