New Jersey Lawmakers Take Two Pro-equality Steps Forward
- from the Human Rights Campaign
NEW JERSEY LAWMAKERS TAKE TWO PRO-EQUALITY STEPS FORWARD
State Legislators Pass Civil Unions Law; Non-Discrimination Policy
Protects Transgender Individuals
For Immediate Release: Thursday, Dec. 14, 2006
WASHINGTON In a one-two step, New Jersey lawmakers passed two pieces
of legislation today that are seen as positive steps forward for gay,
lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality in that state. The first
piece of legislation, Senate Bill 362, which adds gender identity and
expression to the state laws prohibiting discrimination in employment,
housing and public contracts, overwhelmingly passed both the Senate
and Assembly. In addition, the New Jersey Legislature passed a bill
creating civil unions for same-sex couples that extends all of the
state-level spousal rights and responsibilities. Both bills are headed
to Gov. Jon Corzine's desk where he is expected to sign both measures.
"Although it is disappointing that the Legislature did not grant
same-sex couples full marriage equality today, it is gratifying that
we are achieving pro-active advances for equality instead of having to
defend ourselves against attacks," said Joe Solmonese, president of
the Human Rights Campaign. "These advances for same-sex couples would
not have been possible without the tireless work of Garden State
Equality. We are honored to stand beside them as we continue to pursue
full equality for same-sex couples in New Jersey."
"The Human Rights Campaign has been a great partner, along with other
groups, in helping us build a grassroots campaign in support of full
marriage equality," said StevenGoldstein, chairman of Garden State
Equality. "We look forward to continuing work with them."
Recently the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that it is
unconstitutional to deny same-sex couples state-level spousal rights
and responsibilities. Since that time, the Human Rights Campaign has
joined forces with Garden State Equality and other coalition groups to
prompt the Legislature to extend full marriage equality to same-sex
couples. The court ruled that the Legislature must either amend its
marriage law to include same-sex couples or provide these rights and
responsibilities by some other means such as civil unions.
"We knew the fight for marriage would neither be easy nor quick, but
the country is on a clear trajectory toward equality and we must never
give up until we reach that point," said Solmonese. "It is incumbent
upon us to continue the energy and dedication we have brought to this
fight since day one. And we must not stop until we achieve full equality."
When Corzine signs Senate Bill 362 into law, New Jersey will become
the ninth state to ban discrimination against transgender individuals.
A map of these states can be found at:
www.hrc.org/stateantidiscriminationmap. Additionally, during the
education about this bill, Garden State Equality aired the first
television commercial in American history on transgender rights. This
ad can be viewed at: http://www.gardenstateequality.org/ad.htm . For
several years HRC has been happy to support the work of the Gender
Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey as they worked for passage
of this bill.
"HRC provided funds that proved instrumental to the success of
legislation to protect transgender workers in New Jersey," said Barbra
Casbar, political director of the Gender Rights Advocacy Association
of New Jersey. "Their resources enabled us to do proactive educational
and political outreach and participate on an equal basis with our
statewide LGBT and progressive partners and synergize with them in
delivering the message of full LGBTI equality. We thank the Human
Rights Campaign for their crucial financial assistance and educational
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights
organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender
equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end
discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that
achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.