In a landmark new
report released Wednesday, a New Jersey commission has
recommended that state legislators allow gays and lesbians
to marry. The report paves the way for the Garden
State to potentially become the first to legalize
same-sex marriage by passing a law, rather than by a
court ruling, the Associated Press reports.
The Civil Union
Review Commission, tasked with evaluating the state's
two-year-old civil unions law, determined that marriage was
superior. "This commission finds that the separate
categorization established by the Civil Union Act
invites and encourages unequal treatment of same-sex
couples and their children," the report says, according to
commission's 13 members, comprising LGBT leaders and
government officials as well as a Republican and two
clergy members, unanimously agreed on their
conclusions. It found that in addition to being
unequal, the rights afforded same-sex couples under
civil unions aren't always well understood, the AP reports.
For example, the commission documented cases in which
people in civil unions had been prevented from
visiting their partners in the hospital.
"The report is a
sweeping indictment of the failure of the civil union
law," Steven Goldstein, head of Garden State Equality and
the vice chairman of the commission, told the
New Jersey Star-Ledger. "The report asks
Governor Corzine and the legislature: Do you want equality
or not? If so, there is only one way to go."
report should spark a renewed sense of purpose and
urgency to overcoming one of society's last remaining
barriers to full equality for all residents," state
assembly speaker Joseph Roberts Jr., a Democrat from
Camden and one of the key figures in setting the
legislature's agenda, told the AP.
spokesperson for New Jersey governor Jon S. Corzine said the
governor would not comment until he had reviewed the report,
Corzine has said in the past that he would sign a bill
allowing gay marriage. (Advocate.com)