The ACLU today applauded the findings of the New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission, which found that civil unions are unequal and urged the State to give same-sex couples the right to marry.
"We agree with the commission's unanimous findings that civil unions are inadequate," said ACLU-NJ Legal Director Ed Barocas. "The commission found that the term 'civil union' is not well-understood by the public, impedes healthcare access and business transactions and places legal rights at risk. It hurts families who travel out-of-state, harms LGBT students and stigmatizes children raised in families labeled with this second-class status by the state. It will likely cost the state millions of dollars each year over nothing more than designating a class of people as unequal.The commission's report stated, "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 law creating civil unions in New Jersey took effect in February 2007, but the commission's report released today found that civil unions did not give couples the same benefits of a marriage, which the ACLU has argued from the beginning.
"The civil unions law has failed to fulfill the promise of equality," Barocas added. "The law created a separate system of rights by injecting language that is not easily understood and hard to fit into real-life events. The continued injustice for our state's gay and lesbian citizens exists on many levels, from the practical, to the legal, to the profound.
"In addition to addressing the issue of inequality, the commission determined that a marriage law would alleviate disparities, increase state revenues, and help the state's job market, which are critically important during a recession. It seems that the state needs to consider the benefits of marriage to both the people of New Jersey and to its own coffers."