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Two years of civil unions and what do we have to show for it?

February 18, 2009

Civil whats now?Thursday marks the second anniversary of civil unions in the Garden State. Frankly, we don’t have a lot to show for it.

As the New Jersey Civil Union Commission confirmed in December, most institutions don’t treat civil unions like marriages at all. “Unioned” couples often can’t share health insurance, visit each other in the hospital, or do a host of other things married couples take for granted.

I’d go on, but I’ve actually done a podcast on this very topic for CentralJersey.com. You can listen to it here: CJ Radio

(Welcome to any and all readers who found their way here from there!)

A fun new fact, which Garden State Equality announced tonight, has to do with public opinion. From an e-mail:

A new statewide poll, conducted by Monmouth University for Gannett, shows that registered voters across New Jersey favor marriage equality by a margin of 50 to 40 percent. The poll will be released on the two-year anniversary of the state’s civil union law, Thursday, February 19, 2009. The poll is independent: Neither Garden State Equality nor other advocacy organizations are affiliated with it.

While this is certainly a victory in the court of public opinion, there are still two major problems. First, there isn’t any legitimate reason for that 40 percent to be against us in a legal battle. We don’t begrudge them their right to say we’ll all burn in hell—no matter how much we may disagree—and they likewise should allow us our own personal freedoms.

But equally important is the fact that public opinion should not be the driving force behind this issue. Historically, the general population has been late to acknowledge a minority group’s right to exist, and it’s right to be treated like everyone else. People as a group are not legal experts, and base these kinds of decisions on emotions, not facts. That’s not good for anybody.

Bending law to public will is a bad idea. The gay community is far from the first group to face this type of problem, and it certainly won’t be the last. But that doesn’t make our struggle for equal rights any less important. It just places things in an enlightening historical context, one that might even help us see where to go next.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 19, 2009 9:39 pm

    Anyone who is paying attention has got to wonder when the Queer Community will gain the DIGNITY to finally say, “You know what, America? You want to EXCLUSE us? Fine. We’re taking our hard-earned TAX DOLLARS with us”.

    “I refuse to be treated like dog poop legally in the U.S.A. in 2009. Period”

    Given that the federal government EXCLUDES our families from U.S. law., how can we continue acting like things are OK? A heterosexual in the EXACT SAME LEGAL SHOES would have gone to a far more extreme reaction than a mere tax revolt; most “He-Men” Americans would grab their gun if American Law worked tirelessly to demoralize, degrade, and oppress their family.

    We made a GRAVE mistake when we ALLOWED society to be able to vote on our family’s legal worth, along with votes on school levies, bridge construction, and toll roads. That further trivialized our families and children in the eyes of the law.

    We should have rioted in the streets the second things like PROP 8 first appeared. [equality tax revolt]

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