IDrownFish of the Seven Seas wrote:
The question here (and I'll admit to knowing very little about the NJ civil union legal status) is if the finding that civil unions were failing to provide the same rights and benefits as marriage was because the actual state law treats them differently, or if individuals and groups within the state are. If the former, then there's certainly a case to be made. But if the latter, then Christie's statement makes complete sense. He's saying that the solution to the problem lies not in changing the requirements for marriage, but in enforcing the existing law. If people/hospitals/businesses/whatever are treating civil unions differently, then that's a "violation of a citizen's rights (and) should be investigated and, if appropriate, remedied"
From what I understand of NJ Civil Union law, though, it's pretty much an issue of not being equal under the law.
The New Jersey Legislature enacted the Domestic Partnership Act, P.L.2003, c. 246, on January 12, 2004, which came into effect on July 10, 2004. The law made domestic partnerships available to all same-*** couples, as well as to different-*** couples aged 62 and older. The domestic partnership statute provides "limited healthcare, inheritance, property rights and other rights and obligations" but "[does] not approach the broad array of rights and obligations afforded to married couples." For example, as Lambda Legal states, the law "required health and pension benefits [only] for state employees—it was voluntary for other employers—and did not require family leave to care for an ill partner."
So it's not that they are being discriminated against - they literally are not granted the same rights as a marriage, which is pretty wrong in my book.
Except that you quoted from the section about the NJ Domestic Partnership law, which was replaced in 2006 by its civil union law (which is what we're actually discussing here). The relevant portion from the same Wiki page:
On December 14, 2006, the New Jersey Legislature passed a bill providing for civil unions which was signed into law by the Governor Jon Corzine on December 21, 2006. The Civil Union Act came into effect on February 19, 2007.
Same-*** couples who enter into a civil union are provided almost all of the rights granted to married couples under New Jersey state law. However, under the provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA, same-*** couples in marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships do not have any right or entitlement to the 1,138 rights that a married couple has under federal law.
The law provides for the creation of a Civil Unions Review Commission that will evaluate the law's effectiveness and any problems resulting therefrom, and will report every six months for three years following enactment to assess the impact of the law. The first meeting of the Civil Unions Review Commission took place on June 18, 2007. The Commission elected a chair, Frank Vespa-Papaleo, the current Director of the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights, and the Commission plans on meeting monthly as well as conducting periodic public meetings.
According to the new civil union law, when a same-*** couple receives a civil union, their domestic partnership is automatically terminated by the civil union. However, those couples who remain in domestic partnerships and elect to not enter into a civil union will be allowed to remain as domestic partners.
As I stated earlier, the state itself is only responsible for rights and benefits it grants. So DOMA does not represent a problem with the civil union law itself since those are not things that the state is providing in the first place. At the state level the two statuses are equal under the law. Now if you want to make this an issue about federal recognition of marriage, that's a whole different issue. But that kinda doesn't have anything to do with Christie, or his statement.
OH. And just in case anyone's thinking of using my own re-use of the same terms used by others as agreement, let me say for the record that we're still really talking about benefits, not rights. Just want to make that clear right now. Gaining access to your partners pension is a benefit, not a right. Edited, Feb 21st 2012 5:58pm by gbaji