I've read quite a bit of nonsense in The Herald and other news sources against the civil union legislation recently passed and signed into law by Governor John Corzine. Folks have their reasons for disapproving of gay marriage; from what I've experienced, it is mostly because of Christianity and the Bible. But last I heard, freedom of religion was a basic right in the country, and separation of church and state is suggested by our nation's charter and followed regularly nationwide in these modern times.
Now, imagine how the justices sitting on New Jersey's Supreme Court felt when they realized that the state's current marriage law was dreadfully inadequate and downright discriminatory against certain persons who are protected by the same constitution that protects all other New Jerseyans. So the court required that the legislature find a quick and fair way to allow civil unions with the same rights as marriage. Why? For one simple reason: they did not want to find New Jersey's marriage law unconstitutional, which was a distinct possibility. Can you imagine the complete chaos that would cause? Insurance companies could immediately drop dependent spouses from medical policies because, technically, they wouldn't be spouses anymore. The Department of Taxation could have a field day voiding the returns of millions of couple as far back as tax records are kept. Divorce settlements would be null and void - if couples were never legally married, there were never settlements to be made. Most shockingly, the Garden State could become the Bastard State, as any child born to parents married in New Jersey since marriage was established here would immediately be considered illegitimate. That's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
Instead, the court politely gave a deadline to enact legislation granting civil unions and those who get them the same rights as married couples. People opposing the new law should thank their lucky stars and probably just shut up, if they know what's good for them. If they keep making a fuss, maybe their wish will come true, and the civil union law will be declared null and void. That's all well and good, temporarily. But eventually, it would force the court to make the alternate decision, which I guarantee no one will be happy with.
© 2007 Robert A. Geise