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December 8, 2006
SGN.org
Volume 34
Issue 49
 
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New Jersey civil union bill passes through legislative committee
New Jersey civil union bill passes through legislative committee
'The discriminatory bill is 63 pages long all to avoid the one word that does the job - marriage.'

by Robert Raketty - SGN Contributing Writer

The New Jersey Assembly's Judiciary Committee voted 4-2 on Thursday to send Bill A3787, a civil union bill, to the full Assembly for a floor vote. Political observers expect the bill to be approved by both houses of the legislature by the end of the year.

An October 25 state Supreme Court ruling had ordered that the legislature take steps to bestow the same rights and benefits to same-sex couples that married heterosexual couples already enjoy. However, the court stopped short of requiring the term "marriage" and opted to allow the lawmakers to define the new package of benefits.

"The government thinks it's OK to treat us differently because we are Gay," said Karen Nicholson-McFadden, a plaintiff in the landmark N.J. Supreme Court case. "I will never be allowed to marry the only person I would ever want to marry if you pass this bill."

Lambda Legal who represented the seven plaintiff couples in the case before the N.J. Supreme Court called the bill "discriminatory" and urged lawmakers to opt for the universally understood institution of marriage.

"If passed, this huge civil union bill will become one of the largest forms of statutory discrimination ever created by the New Jersey Legislature," said David Buckel, Marriage Project Director at Lambda Legal and lead attorney on the New Jersey marriage lawsuit. "The discriminatory bill is 63 pages all to avoid the one word that does the job -- marriage."

Garden State Equality organized testimony from New Jersey's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender community and its allies. In all, committee members heard four hours of diverse, yet, emotional pleas.

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