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Wednesday, October 25, 2006
NJ SC Approves Gay Marriage
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 4:24 pm

Via Reuters: NJ court grants gay couples equal marriage rights

Saying times have changed, New Jersey’s highest court on Wednesday guaranteed gay couples the same rights as married heterosexuals but left it to state lawmakers to decide if such unions can be called marriage.

[…]

the court gave the legislature six months to either amend the state’s marriage statutes to include gay people, or write a new law in which same-sex couples “would enjoy the rights of civil marriage.”

New Jersey’s marriage statutes define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

The ruling leaves state lawmakers with two options — allow gays to marry in the same way as others, or develop a parallel system of unions for same-sex couples. That second option would leave New Jersey with civil unions akin to those in Vermont.

This is hardly surprising and, quite frankly, the entire situation should be seen as inevitable.

The opponents of same-sex marriage would have been smarter to have pushed civil unions in an attempt to reserve the term “marriage” to heterosexual couples, preserving at least a legal figleaf protecting the concept. As it stands, the equal protection issues inherent in the debate are going to drive courts to continue to make these types of decisions.

Of course, as I think I have noted before, regardless of the legalities of it all, one cannot legislate the usage of vocabulary, and no doubt even same-sex civil unions would be called “marriage” in popular parlance. To see what I am talking about, note Secretary Rice’s usage of the term “mother-in-law” in official remarks at the State Department wherein she refers to the mother of Mark Dybul’s partner as his “mother-in-law.”

Ultimately if people of the same gender wish to be legally bound to one another, I am not sure what the tremendous social harm is supposed to be.

Filed under: US Politics, Courts/the Judiciary | |Send TrackBack

8 Comments »

  1. The opponents of same-sex marriage would have been smarter to have pushed civil unions in an attempt to reserve the term “marriage” to heterosexual couples, preserving at least a legal figleaf protecting the concept.

    More precisely, the opponents should have minded their own business. Why anyone would be against equal protection under the law and two people committing to a lifelong monogomous relationship and is beyond the realm of rational thinking.

    Comment by Ratoe — Wednesday, October 25, 2006 @ 4:38 pm

  2. I appreciate your candor, but the social harm in legalized gay marriage lies in the damage it does to our national values. Or, more to the point, the assertion it makes that there are no national values, only cold logic. Cold logic based on what we know may not reveal any ready reasons why gay relationships are inherently immoral, but values don’t spring from cold logic. And it’s our values that have always made us great.

    Of course, our national values are changing, and public policy will always follow those changes. So while I oppose recognition of what I consider to be immoral relationships and participate in opposition to them, I also know that the most important battle should be at the level of public morality. If that can’t be helped, legalized gay marriage is just a few votes away.

    Comment by David Hinckley — Wednesday, October 25, 2006 @ 4:49 pm

  3. Steven,

    After a couple of years of gay marriage in Mass and civil unions in Vermont and Connecticut, the Northeast certainly does not see this as a particularly big deal — and I think that is also becoming the national consensus. Let homoesexuals have the same rights as heterosexuals, but if possible protect the “institution” of marriage.

    I think that most people will greet this with a shrug, and those most opposed will be those who believe that homosexuality is immoral to begin with. Once you jump the immorality hurdle, it is far easier jump to recognizing that committed same sex couples should enjoy equal rights.

    Comment by SoloD — Wednesday, October 25, 2006 @ 5:17 pm

  4. I appreciate your candor, but the social harm in legalized gay marriage lies in the damage it does to our national values.

    Listen, if you are really concerned with “national values,” there are many more pressing instances of the break down of “national values” than this issue.

    When our Congress and President embrace torture and the erosion of basic civil liberties, for instance, we can identify much larger affronts to “national values.”

    In fact, to the extent that this ruling asserts equality before the law, then we should consider this a great celebration of the principles of individualism that form the philosophical basis of our republic.

    Government-sactioned torture and kidnapping and a total disregard for the rule of law by the Executive branch are the substance of constitutional crisis.

    Two people getting married is utterly meaningless in the current crisis of values that we see from the radicals who currently occupy significant positions of power in the country.

    Comment by Ratoe — Wednesday, October 25, 2006 @ 5:34 pm

  5. While there may be little harm done to society it is reasonable to expect people to object to thousands of years of society’s norms to be cast aside in a few short years.

    What societal norms could be done away with next if we base all of our decisions on “cold logic” as Mr. Hinckley said?

    I would argue this should have been decided in the political arena not in the courts who are bound by logic to make some poor decisions.

    Comment by Steven Plunk — Wednesday, October 25, 2006 @ 5:43 pm

  6. While there may be little harm done to society it is reasonable to expect people to object to thousands of years of society’s norms to be cast aside in a few short years.

    What societal norms could be done away with next if we base all of our decisions on “cold logic” as Mr. Hinckley said?

    Yeah, you’re right. Lets get rid of women and blacks voting while we’re at it. Maybe bring back slavery, as well-it’ll sure help the unemployment figures.

    Comment by Ratoe — Wednesday, October 25, 2006 @ 6:04 pm

  7. Throwing in minorities and women doesn’t advance your argument. Many still see gay behavior as a choice, not something a person is born as. This is seen as a fundamental difference between rights affoded to women and minorities and the rights that the gay community atr lobbying for.

    Marriage is different from those others rights as well. The cultural and societal norms concerning marriage included women and minorities. Most minorities fail to see any connection between the civil rights struggle they endured and the current gay marriage controversy.

    I’m simply explaining why there is resistance to this idea. If proponents of gay marriage fail to see it I doubt they can develope a strategy yo overcome it and attain their goals.

    Again I must object to the rhetorical tactic of equating opposition to gay marriage as homophobic, racist and sexist all at the same time. Painting rational opponents of any policy with such a broad stroke reveals weakness in the proponents stance.

    Comment by Steven Plunk — Thursday, October 26, 2006 @ 12:23 pm

  8. Throwing in minorities and women doesn’t advance your argument. Many still see gay behavior as a choice

    My response was to your point championing the persistence of “societal norms.” Slavery and the male franchise were societal norms for hundreds of years. The point is that norms change.

    Secondly, on “gay behavior being a choice”-that is irrelevant. The issue here is marriage. Marriage for anyone is a choice. The problem resolved by the NJ case is that the state-in the case at hand-discriminates on the basis of the plaintiffs’ gender. That is fundamentally anti-individual and an affront to civil liberties-two of the basic philosophical elements underpinning our democratic system.

    Comment by Ratoe — Thursday, October 26, 2006 @ 3:18 pm

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