Governor's signature makes N.J. 3rd state with civil unions

TRENTON, N.J. (BP)--New Jersey became the third state to legalize civil unions when Gov. Jon Corzine signed Dec. 21 into law a bill that grants homosexual couples all the legal benefits of marriage under state law.

Vermont and Connecticut also have civil unions. California has something similar but calls them domestic partnerships. Massachusetts remains the lone state with full-fledged "gay marriage."

Corzine, a Democrat, signed the bill into law approximately two months after the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered the legislature to pass a law granting same-sex couples, "on equal terms, the rights and benefits" of marriage. The justices, in their 4-3 decision, gave legislators the option of legalizing either "gay marriage" or civil unions. Legislators chose the latter, and set out to pass the law by year's end.

"We must recognize that many gay and lesbian couples in New Jersey are in committed relationships, and deserve the same benefits and rights as every other family in the state," Corzine said in a statement.

The bill passed the Assembly 56-19 and the Senate 23-12. Both are controlled by Democrats.

The new law, though, has made few people happy. Homosexual activists had wanted the court to go ahead and legalize "gay marriage" -- something the three dissenting justices supported.

"It's a step forward, but it's not true equality," Veronica Hoff, 52, a lesbian who attended the bill-signing, said, according to the Associated Press.

Lambda Legal, one of the organizations that brought the lawsuit, has pledged to continue fighting for "gay marriage" within the state.

“The court’s decision in Lewis v. Harris gave the New Jersey legislature an historic opportunity to deliver equality, dignity and fairness to families," David Buckel, an attorney with the homosexual group Lambda Legal, said in a statement. "There is no reason to enact civil unions other than to send the message that our families are not worthy of equality."

Conservatives, meanwhile, say the new law is another step toward the decline of the family. Five states now grant homosexual couples virtually all the legal benefits of marriage. Four of those states adopted their laws following a court order.

"Children will be taught from as early as kindergarten that same-sex unions are an equivalent alternative to heterosexual marriage," Toni Meyer Sr., research analyst for the New Jersey Family Policy Council, said in an online analysis. "Right now in Massachusetts kids are being taught how to have homosexual sex and impressionable teens are taught to be open to the idea that they may in fact turn out to be homosexual.

Corzine's signature means homosexual activists went 0-for-3 in 2006 in three major "gay marriage" lawsuits. Supreme courts in New Jersey, New York and Washington state all ruled there was no constitutional right to "gay marriage." But identical lawsuits in four states -- California, Connecticut, Iowa and Maryland -- are still pending.


Compiled by Michael Foust. For more information about the national debate over "gay marriage," visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage