A bill expected to be introduced in the New Jersey legislature this month that would grant legal benefits to same-sex couples is likely to have the backing of Gov. James E. McGreevey. "Governor McGreevey supports legislation that would provide domestic-partner benefits and protections," McGreevey spokeswoman Jo Glading told the Sunday Star-Ledger of Newark. The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen), would not recognize marriages between gay people but would ensure that people living together, including same-sex couples, would receive the same legal benefits as married couples. The measure would require unmarried couples to sign a certificate that states they are committed, intimate partners. "I think this is another case where the law has to catch up with reality," Weinberg said. "Folks are living together in committed relationships with the opposite or same sex. They should not be left bereft when something happens to one of the couple." The bill would guarantee benefits including those involving medical decisions, inheritance and pensions, and life and health insurance.
Republican state senator Gerald Cardinale, who introduced legislation in February to ban same-sex marriages, opposes the new bill. "What people do privately without sticking it in the public is of much less interest," Cardinale said, "but once you begin to ask government to sanction it, I think, you are in a different ballpark."
If the new measure becomes law, New Jersey would be the third state in the country to allow marriage-like benefits to partners living together. California and Vermont are the other states.