Same Love And, Now, Same Benefits in New Jersey

Once it struck midnight on Monday night, marriage bells could be heard chiming across New Jersey. Fourteen states now allow gay marriage, in addition to the three that recognize civil unions, and one, New Mexico, that doesn’t allow or ban it. The United States is making significant progress towards the goal of equality for matrimony – and the issue has come to the forefront of both state and national politics.

In the recent past, there have been many small triumphs for American gay rights activists. A huge moment for the movement was the fact that President Obama mentioned gay marriage rights in his Inaugural Address in 2012. Somewhat more concretely, multiple Supreme Court cases have been heard concerning the right for homosexual couples to marry. Even popular rap artist, Macklemore, has gotten into the action selling millions of copies of his hit song, “Same Love.” Now, New Jersey is in the spotlight for celebrations across the country.b

The fact that several states, including California (in this picture, a gay couple in San Francisco are being wed), allow same-sex marriage made the fight for equality easier in New Jersey.

The fact that several states, including California (in this picture, a gay couple in San Francisco are being wed), allow same-sex marriage made the fight for equality easier in New Jersey.

A favorite for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appealed to the Supreme Court to postpone the legalization of gay marriage in New Jersey, but retracted the appeal after he was told it was unlikely to succeed. Although Christie is not pro-gay marriage and has been quoted to say he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, he recently signed a bill banning gay-conversion therapy in the state of New Jersey into law. After the legalization of gay marriage, Christie’s offices released a statement, which included the following: “The Governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his Administration enforces the law as dictated by the New Jersey Supreme Court.”

Seven years ago, during another fight for marriage equality, the state Supreme Court stated that gay partnerships deserved the rights and benefits given to a heterosexual married couple, but did not expressly state if gay couples could get married – the decision left it up to the states to decide to legalize it or not. So, New Jersey opted to give gay couples the chance to form civil unions. But, civil unions do not offer the same benefits under the law that marriage does. Gay couples were disallowed family medical benefits, tax and immigration matters and other benefits legally married couples receive. But since Monday, New Jersey has rectified the situation and gay couples can now receive important benefits that had been denied to them.

Gay marriage equality has become not just a fight for couples, but a fight for families as well – not only because of the familial benefits that come with legal marriage, but also because children want to see their parents married. Children like Kasey Nicholson-McFadden, who spoke out three years ago in the State House of New Jersey.  “It doesn’t bother me to tell kids my parents are gay… It does bother me to say they aren’t married. It makes me feel that our family is less than their family.”

Touching stories like these prove that gay marriage is personal. Every gay couple that now gets married in New Jersey is celebrating. And that is something we should all do with them, after this historic win for universal civil rights.

Posted by on October 24, 2013. Filed under World News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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