Equality in New Jersey

The state's Supreme Court finds that gay couples must be allowed the same rights and responsibilities as straight couples.

Published October 25, 2006 9:04PM (EDT)

This afternoon New Jersey's Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to the same rights and protections as heterosexual couples. While the move is a step forward, it's still too soon to declare victory for same-sex marriage in the state, since the court leaves the question of whether to call gay unions by the anointed M-word "to the democratic process." The upshot is that New Jersey is currently in a similar situation as Vermont, where civil unions are authorized; Massachusetts is still the only state that has legalized same-sex marriages as such.

The New Jersey case was brought by seven gay and lesbian couples who have been denied marriage licenses in the state. Though the question of whether the state will allow same-sex marriages remains unanswered, the ruling does establish critical rights and legal protections for gay couples. I can't help wondering whether the highly publicized case of New Jersey cop and Broadsheet favorite Laurel Hester, whose pension benefits were denied (and subsequently granted) to her partner, Stacie Andree, was on any of the judges' minds today.

The state Legislature has six months to enact legislation, but for anyone who'd like to support equality a little sooner, rallies are scheduled across the state tonight.

By Marisa Meltzer

Marisa Meltzer is a freelance writer in New York City. She is coauthor of "How Sassy Changed My Life: A Love Letter to the Greatest Teen Magazine of All Time," which comes out in April.

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