Friday, October 27, 2006

New Jersey Same-Sex Marriage Case

So New Jersey weighed in on the same sex marriage front the other day with an interesting opinion in Lewis v. Harris. The court held that preventing same sex couples from enjoying the same financial and social benefits that heterosexual couples enjoy ran afoul of the state constitution's equal protection clause.

So what to do? Here the court split. The dissenting judges thought that anything less than full-blown marriage was an equal protection violation. The majority decided to leave it up to the legislature, giving them 180 days to work out a way to give same-sex couples the same privileges as married couples, BUT, they don't have to call it "marriage;" civil union, or I guess "Bert and Ernie Union" would work too, but the privileges enjoyed have to be the same. So a sort of "separate but equal."

I guess this is a compromise of sorts, but this really seems like a silly distinction without a difference. Is it really just the word "marriage" that social conservatives are so upset about? Or do they feel that same-sex couples are so abhorrent that they should not be given the same benefits as married persons? Is there really a constituency out there that is willing to let same-sex couples marrry...strike that....union-ize?, as long as they don't call it "marriage?"

Media reaction has predicted a backlash, similar to the one that my fair city created a few years ago, saying that once again this will galvanize the social conservatives. I'm not so sure. I think the court has diffused the argument that they are being activist by leaving the remedy up the legislature. I think some of the fear is gone as well. Critics now see that people in Massachusetts and elsewhere are still living in peace and procreating, which has taken the steam out of the argument that gay marriage will somehow destroy civil society.

Plus, I think everyone realizes this time around that there are more important conversations to be had.

From CBC News

1 comment:

Mademoiselle De Rigueur said...

frightening picture

my thoughts on the matter of gay rights are the same as abortion rights namely that a private sphere concern (such as concerns personal beliefs) should not be infringed upon by the public sphere namely govt or any legislative body--its just not their perogative.

About NY: youre right NY state is different as a whole from NYC, but even in NYC the same applies (granted this depends on the borough) I was referring to Queens, know...the ghettos. If you are in Midtown manhattan, I dont doubt your gf is right on point. If she ever feels fat, tell her to head to the backalleys of chinatown and little india for some real lovin' (food...calm down)