Thursday, December 14, 2006

Love is not a battlefield: New Jersey is already most of the way to becoming the union's third state to recognize gay marriages (or an equivalent institution), after the state Assembly today passed a civil unions law 56-19. Currently, the only states with such institutions are Massachusetts, where, since May 17, 2004, gay couples have been eligible for marriage plain and simple; Connecticut, which in 2005 passed a civil unions law signed by Republican Gov. Jodi Rell; and Vermont, where the state Supreme Court mandated civil unions in 2000. The AP says:

The measure passed 56-19. The state Senate was expected to take up the bill later in the day.

The legislation -- which would extend to gay couples all the rights and privileges available under state law to married people -- would make New Jersey the third state with civil unions.

"Love counts," Democratic Assemblyman Wilfredo Caraballo, a chief sponsor of the bill, said as the debate opened. "The gender of whom one loves should not matter to the state."

But Republican Asseblyman Ronald S. Dancer said: "It's my personal belief, faith and religious practice that marriage has been defined in the Bible. And this is one time that I cannot compromise my personal beliefs and faiths."

Democratic Gov. Jon S. Corzine said he would sign the measure into law if it passed.

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