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Making its final recommendation, the New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission says the civil union law 'invites and encourages' harm
to same-sex couples and their children
The commission cites 'overwhelming evidence' the civil union law will never provide equality with the passage of time
The 13 Commissioners include not only LGBT leaders, but also a
right-to-life Republican, plus two clergy, plus six government officials representing an Administration that had opposed marriage equality
in the courts
To watch video of same-sex couples testifying before the Commission, visit www.CivilUnionsDontWork.com
TRENTON, N.J., Dec. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A New Jersey state government commission today unanimously recommended to Governor Corzine and the New Jersey legislature that they enact a law to allow same-sex couples to marry "expeditiously because any delay in marriage equality will harm all the people of New Jersey."
The recommendation is part of the 79-page final report just released by the New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission, a 13-member body created by the civil union law enacted in December 2006. The 13 Commissioners include not only LGBT leaders, but also a right-to-life Republican, plus two clergy, plus six government officials representing an Administration that had opposed marriage equality in the courts. Their report, passed on a 13 to 0 vote with no abstentions, is based on testimony from more than 150 witnesses over 26 hours spanning 18 public meetings in 2007 and 2008.
The civil union law "invites and encourages unequal treatment of same-sex couples and their children," concludes the final report, titled TheEconomic, Legal, Medical and Social Consequences of New Jersey's Civil Union Act. "In a number of cases, the negative effect of the Civil Union Act on the physical and mental health of same-sex couples and their children is striking, largely because a number of employers and hospitals do not recognize the rights and benefits of marriage for civil union couples."
"The Commission is compelled to issue its final report now because of the overwhelming evidence that civil unions will not be recognized by the general public as the equivalent of marriage in New Jersey with the passage of time. Nearly a decade later, civil union couples in Vermont report the same obstacles to equality that New Jersey civil union couples face today," the report states, citing the recent study of a panel in Vermont.
Besides assessing the civil union law's impact on same-sex couples, today's final report describes how the absence of a marriage equality statute deprives New Jersey's entire economy of considerable revenue. "Spending on weddings and tourism could boost the New Jersey economy by approximately $248 million over three years," the report states. One expert testifying before the Commission estimates the figure could be $500 million or more.
But the heart of today's report is its delineation of the harm that New Jersey's civil union law has pro-actively inflicted upon same-sex couples.
"I'm a pro-life Republican and past Director of Gloucester County Right-to-Life," said Commission member AnnLynne Benson on the release of today's report, "so I know the diversity of this Commission. Our report demonstrates in exquisite detail why amending New Jersey's law to extend marriage to same-sex couples is a necessity. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that 'denying rights and benefits to committed same-sex couples violates the equal protection guarantee and can no longer be tolerated under our State constitution.' Implementation of that ruling by the invention of a parallel status failed to deliver equality. It was like planting a toothpick and hoping a tree would grow."
According to the final report, the civil union law's harm to same-sex couples includes:
The Commission's final report refutes the notion -- as the interim
report did -- that a change in state law from civil unions to
marriage equality would have minimal impact because Federal law does
not recognize same-sex relationships. The final report provides
ample evidence to the contrary, based on the dramatically lower
invocation of ERISA by companies in Massachusetts, which has a
marriage equality law. "The term 'marriage,' the report concludes,
"would make a significant difference in providing equality even with
no change in federal law."
|SOURCE Garden State Equality|
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