LGBT in America - New Jersey
An Exclusive Series by Connextions Magazine
By Edward Truth, Contributing Writer for Connextions Magazine
History has proven that progress is rarely welcomed unanimously. So it is with LGBT life in America. Compelling and controversial, the civil rights saga spans geography and geneerations, binding each new chapter to the last, embracing diversity, building from blueprints yet undrawn.
As one of the thirteen colonies to secede from Britain during the American Revolution, New Jersey started as a leader, and recently The Garden State stepped up as a voice against prejudice and mediocrity in American politics. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the state became a symbol of bipartisanship when Governor Chris Christie (R) schooled House Republicans on the importance of giving aid to disaster victims, regardless of state-party affiliation. When it comes to protecting the disenfranchised against an indifferent system, Christie hasn't always done the right thing. But equality advocates can find some solace in progress, as the state now contends with threats that really do matter—like community-crushing natural disasters—instead of focusing on what a great deal of Americans now consider their right: marriage.
New Jersey doesn't allow same-sex couples to marry, but instead offers the civil union as a type of recognition for families who might be better served by marriage. As a growing number of states have recognized, civil unions fail because they invite discrimination and create more harm outside the state by offering a separate and unequal status to taxpaying residents looking to start families. Since 2007, the state has recognized same-sex marriages from other states or foreign countries as civil unions, and in 2010 the state Senate rejected attempts to legalize marriage for same-sex couples—the fight is currently being waged in the trial courts. But the pressing issue of marriage equality will soon be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, who announced in December
it would hear the California Prop 8 case, potentially changing the face of equality in America by affecting an integral and growing segment of the population, just as Lawrence v. Texas (2003) and Loving v. Virginia (1967) did before.
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