established to study same-sex civil unions in New Jersey has
found in its first report that civil unions create a
''second-class status'' for gay couples, rather than
giving them equality.
The report stops
short of recommending that the state allow same-sex
marriage. But it does find that gay couples in
Massachusetts, the only state that now allows same-sex
marriage, do not experience some of the legal
complications that those in New Jersey do.
Press obtained a copy of the initial report, which was
scheduled to be made public Tuesday, the first anniversary
of the state's first civil unions.
made New Jersey the third state to offer civil unions
with a law adopted in 2006 in reaction to a state supreme
court ruling that year that found gay couples were
entitled to the same legal protections as married
The civil union
law sought to give gay couples those benefits, but not
the title of marriage. As a part of the same law, the review
commission was created to look into whether it was
advocates say the civil unions do not deliver and have
pledged to push lawmakers to vote to allow marriage.
Gov. Jon S. Corzine has said he would be willing to
sign such a bill into law but doesn't want the issue
to be taken up before the presidential election in November.
The activists say
civil unions, in practice, do not offer the legal
protections that marriage does. The commission largely
agreed with them.
held three public hearings last year at which the majority
of the testimony came from people who were in civil unions
and said they were still not being treated the way
married couples are by government agencies, employers,
For instance, the
commission found that many companies in the state that
are self-insured -- and therefore are regulated by federal,
rather than state, law -- refuse to provide health
insurance to the partners of their employees.
in Massachusetts could legally do the same thing, most do
not, according to the report.
also finds that many people in the state do not understand
civil unions, which create a ''second-class status.''
report says the misunderstanding of civil unions makes
it more difficult for a child to grow up in New Jersey with
gay parents, or to be gay themselves.
19, 2,329 couples had received civil union licenses,
according to the state Health and Senior Services
conservatives have said the commission is slanted in favor
of allowing gay marriage, and opponents of gay
marriage have been pushing back in New Jersey.
churches around the state have been planning special
prayers on marriage for Sunday. A major aim is to promote
marriage as being between only a man and a woman.
Princeton group, the National Organization for Marriage,
has aired radio commercials that say allowing gay marriage
would undermine some religious teachings that
homosexuality is wrong. (Geoff Mulvihill, AP)