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New Jersey governor signs same-sex partnership law

New Jersey governor signs same-sex partnership law

New Jersey became the fifth state to recognize same-sex partnerships Monday, but activists said they will not stop the fight until openly gay couples can legally marry. "This legislation is a matter of fundamental decency," Gov. James E. McGreevey said before signing the law. The state now has 180 days to develop the procedure couples will use to register. Under the measure, domestic partners will gain access to medical benefits, insurance, and other legal rights. New Jersey will also recognize such partnerships granted in other states. The bill does not authorize gay marriage, which is against the law in New Jersey. To obtain domestic-partner status, a couple have to share a residence and show proof of joint financial status or property ownership or designation of the partner as the beneficiary in a retirement plan or will. The law will not force businesses to offer health coverage to same-sex partners of employees but does require insurance companies to make it available. It also allows a surviving partner to gain property rights and other survivors' benefits. A divorce-like proceeding in superior court would be necessary to end a domestic partnership. The measure also includes some benefits for domestic unions between unmarried heterosexual couples age 62 and over, covering older couples who do not want to get married because of the potential penalties on pensions and other financial interests. Critics argue that denying the benefits to younger opposite-sex couples amounts to discrimination, while other opponents have called the measure injurious to the institution of marriage and a veiled shift toward recognition of gay marriage.

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Magazine - Gus Kenworthy

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