failing gays and lesbians
From thnt.com Online,
November 20, 2007
There is such a firestorm around the
issue of gay marriage that it is sometimes difficult to remember how deeply
personal and fundamentally unremarkable most civil unions are. By way of
example, Spotswood got its first official gay couple earlier this month.
Had a reporter not been there to cover the story, the ceremony would have gone
unnoticed. There were no protesters. The mayor, who performed the
civil union, was, like the two grooms, slightly nervous, but he said the
ceremony did not turn out to be much different from the other, more traditional
unions over which he has presided. As for the couple, they came to
Spotswood from New York's Staten Island lured by a lovely house and a likable
community. One is a teacher; the other is a hotel concierge.
They are, in other words, like thousands of other young New Jersey couples.
But New Jersey continues to hold them apart, albeit with the best of intentions.
Just a few days before the Spotswood couple tied the knot, the state's civil
rights director called the state's less-than-a-year-old civil unions law a
failure. He did so because in a series of public forums held this fall by
the state's Civil Union Commission dozens of couples testified that, despite the
law granting civil unions equal protections under state law, many of the
fundamental protections and privileges of marriage had been denied them.
Should anyone be surprised?
Like the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy that President Clinton offered gay
military personnel after promising so much more to them, the civil unions law
New Jersey has given its gay and lesbian residents in lieu of actual marriage
has turned out to be nearly as bitter as no law at all.
Since the state Supreme Court ruled that gay couples are entitled to equal
rights and protections, the civil unions law seems to be undermining the very
ruling it was designed to uphold. Gov. Jon S. Corzine has promised to do
something about it, but he says he will wait until 2009 in order to avoid
presidential politics. It is difficult to know whether anyone can get too
excited about gay marriage in the meantime, given the real problems all over the
world. But it would be nice if gay couples in Spotswood and elsewhere did
not have to depend on the vagaries of the political winds to give them what the
state Supreme Court already has determined they deserve.