Panel finds that civil unions are not equal to marriage

The state’s Civil Union Review Commission today called on the state government to enact same-sex marriage after finding that civil unions do not result in equal treatment.

“After eighteen public meetings, 26 hours of oral testimony and hundreds of pages of written submission from more than 150 witnesses, this Commission finds that the separate categorization established by the Civil Union Act invites and encourages unequal treatment of same-sex couples and their children,” read the first paragraph of its report.

The committee, which includes several public officials and seven members appointed by the Governor, Senate President and Assembly Speaker, recommended that same-sex marriage be enacted "expeditiously because any delay in marriage equality will harm all the people of New Jersey." Members included Annlynne Benson, director of Gloucester County Right-to-Life, and Garden State Equality Chairman Steven Goldstein.

Among the issues the report cites are the reluctance of hospitals to recognize civil unions when it comes to visitation rights and “significant psychological damage” of children because of the “stigmatizing label of civil union.”

Governor Corzine has indicated that he would be willing to sign a gay marriage bill sometime after the presidential election. On the other side of the issue, Assemblyman Michael Doherty (R-Washington Twp.) plans to introduce legislation that would allow voters to decide on a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE REPORT

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