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New Jersey Lawmakers Take Two Pro-equality Steps Forward

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    from the Human Rights Campaign NEW JERSEY LAWMAKERS TAKE TWO PRO-EQUALITY STEPS FORWARD State Legislators Pass Civil Unions Law; Non-Discrimination Policy
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 14, 2006
      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
      resources."

      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.

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