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Two gay rights
bills sent to N.J. governor

Two gay rights
bills sent to N.J. governor

Two gay rights bills were sent Monday to New Jersey governor Richard J. Codey, whose signature is expected on both. The state assembly approved a measure that would give same-sex couples the same rights as married couples regarding inheritances and funeral arrangements. It passed 67-6 with five abstentions. The bill would amend the law so a domestic partner has the same funeral rights as a spouse in case their partner dies with no will. It passed the state senate 39-0 on Thursday and was called a "major milestone" by gay rights advocate Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality. The other bill would allow municipalities and other public entities at the local level to extend health benefits to employees' domestic partners. The measure seeks to close a loophole in the domestic-partnership law enacted in 2004. The law was limited to extending health benefits to domestic partners who worked for public agencies covered by the state health plan. The bill, sponsored by Democratic senators John Adler of Camden County and Nia H. Gill of Essex and Passaic counties, would broaden the law so the benefits may be offered by all county and municipal governments, school boards, and county colleges. "It is our hope that every government entity in New Jersey will offer their gay and lesbian employees the same family benefits provided to all other employees. The state should be a model of equality in providing benefits for our workers," Adler said. The measure passed the assembly on Monday 63-7 with eight abstentions. It was approved 34-0 in the state senate on May 12. (AP)

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