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NJ court stops short of gay marriage OK

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061025/ap_on_re_us/gay_marriage NJ court stops short of gay marriage OK By GEOFF MULVIHILL, Associated Press Writer 3 minutes ago
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 25, 2006
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061025/ap_on_re_us/gay_marriage

      NJ court stops short of gay marriage OK

      By GEOFF MULVIHILL, Associated Press Writer 3 minutes
      ago

      TRENTON, N.J. - New Jersey's Supreme Court opened the
      door to gay marriage Wednesday, ruling that
      homosexuals are entitled to the same rights as
      heterosexuals, but leaving it to lawmakers to legalize
      same-sex unions.

      The high court gave lawmakers 180 days to rewrite
      marriage laws to either include same-sex couples or
      create a new system of civil unions for them.

      The ruling is similar to the 1999 decision in Vermont
      that led to civil unions there, which offer the
      benefits of marriage, but not the name.

      "Although we cannot find that a fundamental right to
      same-sex marriage exists in this state, the unequal
      dispensation of rights and benefits to committed
      same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our
      state Constitution," Justice Barry T. Albin wrote for
      the 4-3 majority's decision.

      Outside the Supreme Court, news of the ruling caused
      confusion, with many of the roughly 100 gay marriage
      supporters outside asking each other what it meant.
      Many started to agree that they needed to push for a
      state constitutional amendment to institute gay
      marriage.

      Garden State Equality, New Jersey's main gay and
      lesbian political organization quickly announced
      Wednesday that three lawmakers would introduce a bill
      in the Legislature to get full marriage rights to
      same-sex couples.

      Gay couples in New Jersey can already apply for
      domestic partnerships under a law the Legislature
      passed in 2004 giving gay couples some benefits of
      marriage, such as the right to inherit possessions if
      there is no will and healthcare coverage for state
      workers.

      Democratic Gov. Jon S. Corzine supports domestic
      partnerships, but not gay marriage.

      Supporters pushing for full gay marriage have had a
      two-year losing streak in state courts including New
      York, Washington, and in both Nebraska and Georgia,
      where voter-approved bans on gay marriage were
      reinstated.

      They also have suffered at the ballot boxes in 15
      states where constitutions have been amended to ban
      same-sex unions.

      Cases similar to the one ruled on Wednesday, which was
      filed by seven by gay New Jersey couples, are pending
      in California, Connecticut, Iowa and Maryland.

      "New Jersey is a stepping stone," said Matt Daniels,
      president of the Virginia-based Alliance for Marriage,
      a group pushing for an amendment to the federal
      Constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage. "It's not
      about New Jersey."
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