Thursday, January 7, 2010

Breaking: New Jersey Senate votes against equality

From Blue Jersey, a statement from Garden State Equality

With today's vote in the state Senate, the New Jersey legislature defaulted on its constitutional obligation to provide same-sex couples in New Jersey equal protection....

In 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court told the legislature it could enact marriage or another structure that provides the equal protection of marriage. But the civil union law failed to do that. Too often, civil union couples too often cannot visit loved ones in hospitals, make medical decisions for their partners or receive equal health benefits from employers. Hospitals and employers have treated civil union couples differently because they've been labeled differently. Children have been treated differently at school because their families are labeled differently.

In recent months, including today and at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in December, New Jersey legislators publicly recognized these failures. They publicly acknowledged that the civil union law has not provided equal protection. That's important. New Jersey legislators themselves said it. Our opponents in the legislature said it.

In 2006, New Jersey enacted an experiment called civil union. In 2010, New Jersey has a mountain of proof that the experiment has failed.

Now let's talk about what happened politically.

Things didn't go our way in the legislature because of one factor: Governor Corzine lost reelection.

After his win in November, Governor-elect Christie persuaded a number of legislators to reverse their support of the bill. Before the election, nearly every neutral observer in New Jersey thought marriage equality was certain to become law in lame duck. It became the zeitgeist in Trenton, with good reason. In contrast to today's outcome, before the election we had votes to spare in the Senate, including from a number of Republicans.

But the election changed everything and our national opponents changed nothing. They didn't do much or spend much in New Jersey. As you saw from our thousands of members at the State House these past few weeks who symbolized the massiveness of our campaign, we overwhelmed our opponents on every front - but one. Our opponents had the Governor-elect on their side, and that's all they needed to have. It's ironic given that marriage equality wasn't even an issue in the election, and that the candidates who favored marriage equality together won a majority....

No political party should write off any constituency. And no party should take any constituency for granted either. Our fundamental right to equality should never have been left to sudden death overtime by the party to which the LGBT community and our allies have been unstintingly loyal and have given so much. ... Marriage equality stopped being just a gay issue long ago.

Read the emphasis: they KNOW and ADMIT that separate is not equal. Testimony from many "unioned" couples show that they are still not given equal rights to which they are by theory entitled. A state commission found, unequivocally,
the civil union law "invites and encourages" harm to same-sex couples and their children. The commission cites "overwhelming evidence" the civil union law will never provide equality with the passage of time
But separate and unequal is what they want us to be.

They are bound back to court. The courts in New Jersey told the legislature to fix the problem. Today, the legislature REFUSED to do it.


Jonathan Holbert said...

And in a way, the plaintiffs in this new case will argue that they tried to have the legislature repair the inequity. And the legislators failed.

Good plan of attack. Though anything we would have done would have pissed off the wingers.

Thanks for blogging this!

IT said...

fingers, toes, and eyes crossed!