Gay Civil Unions in NJ – February 23, 2007

December 20, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs, Life 

Governor Jon Corzine plans to sign the NJ Civil Union bill into law tomorrow (Thursday, 12/21/06) at the Trenton War Memorial.

The law takes effect in 60 days – in order to give various departments time to create/update regulations.  That makes February 19 the first day to get licenses.  That’s a state holiday (President’s Day) so February 20 is the first practical day to get a civil union license.  There is a 72 hour waiting period in NJ, so the first practical day to get married (I refuse to use the term “unioned”) is Friday, February 23, 2007.

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In somewhat related news – yesterday the Governor signed legislation to add “gender identity or expression” to the list of banned discrimination categories.

New Jersey Civil Unions – passage and other things that were changed at the same time

December 15, 2006 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs, Life 

Yesterday, the NJ legislature passed a bill that will create civil unions between two people of the same gender, with the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual marriages.  The term “marriage” was not used, the term “civil union” was used instead.  The governor is expected to sign the bill shortly – he has indicated that he will.

I have read the bill.  The writers of the bill were very comprehensive in granting equality to gay civil unions and marriage.  It looks like somebody did a search for the phrases “marriage” and “spouse” in state law and the bill amends each section to add civil unions.  There was clearly some intelligence involved – it wasn’t just a simple cut and paste.

I support civil unions and I believe that they should be labeled marriages.  I believe that they should be recognized in churches as well – including my Presbyterian Church (USA) denomination.  I hope that the gay rights activists will be satisfied with equality under a different name, and will let enough time go by before pushing hard to get the term changed.

While modifying the bill, a few other things that didn’t pertain to gay people were changed.  Here’s a list of some of them, and some other interesting stuff in the bill.

Any child born to a partner in a civil union becomes a child of both partners.  The same goes for adoptions.  Those children will be treated equally by the law as those born to married heterosexual couples, particularly in terms of divorce, custody and child support.

Interestingly, the law concerning sanguinity and marriage was modified.  The NJ restrictions were rather loose – first cousins have always been allowed to marry but you can’t marry your aunt or uncle or niece or nephew.  The modification was done simply by adding the same gender to each line – brother was added to the sentence about men, sister was added to the sentence about women.

The marriage license law was changed.  The old rule had the license issued in the hometown of the female.  If she was not an NJ resident, the license was issued in the hometown of the male.  If both were non-resident, the license was issued in the town where the wedding is to take place.  The new law changes it to allow that a marriage/civil union license may be issued in either party’s hometown – for both homo- and heterosexual couples.

NJ law concerning marriage of minors (under 18) requires the consent of a parent (and for under 16, a judge).  However, there was an old law that said if a minor boy managed to make any woman (“of good repute”) pregnant and was arrested for sexual intercourse with her, he could marry her immediately without consent.  This clause has been removed.

Anyone who could perform marriages can now also perform civil unions.  I believe that this includes lots of clergy who would rather not do so ….
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Premarital agreements (aka prenuptial agreements) are now also allowed for civil unions.

Civil unions can be nullified for all of the same reasons that marriages can be annuled, EXCEPT for impotence.  Interesting.

Name changes are allowed for either partner in a civil union – just like marriage.  Ditto for divorce – you can go back to the name that you were using before the union/marriage.

“Civil union status” is added to the list of discriminatory areas prohibited by law in NJ housing, employment and the like – alongside “marital status”.  “Affectional or sexual orientation” have been on that list in NJ for some time.  This means that it is now illegal to refuse to rent to a couple who are in a civil union.

Domestic Partnerships (the precursor to these civil unions, which had far fewer privileges) are no longer allowed for couples of the same sex.  They continue to be allowed for couples over age 62 (a group where an actual marriage could cause negative tax implications).

A New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission will be established to study the implications of this law and determine whether or not it should be changed and/or added to.  That commission will also study the option of removing the Domestic Partnership laws.  The commission will report back every 6 months for 3 years.

Any Civil Union from another state that is legal in that state will be recognized in NJ.  I suspect that this includes Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut and California.

Interesting changes.  Only 2 things change for heterosexuals and those changes are minor and to the benefits of the parties involved.  The rest is simple equality.  I approve.

NJ Gay Activists – Pause While You’re Ahead

October 27, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs, Life, Religion 

Gays and lesbians in NJ are celebrating the Supreme Court decision on Wednesday that will eventually give them the right to marry or enter an equivalent union.  However, some don’t believe that the decision goes far enough.

In this article, Steven Goldstein (the head of Garden State Equality) is quoted as saying that he will continue to fight for the term marriage to apply to gays and lesbians until there is “blood on these knuckles”.  He continues:  “We will outwork, outplay, outthink and demolish the other side”.  The Garden State Equality website says:

Those who would view today’s Supreme Court ruling as a victory for same-sex couples are dead wrong.  So help us God, New Jersey’s LGBTI community and our millions of straight allies will settle for nothing less than 100% marriage equality.  Let decision makers from Morristown to Moorestown, from Maplewood to Maple Shade, recognize that fundamental fact right now.

My day job is that of an IT Project Manager.  In both my college days and in the years since, I’ve received training in change management.  One fundamental principle of change management is that you must leave those impacted by the change enough time to process the change and make it a part of their world view.  Attempting to force a change upon masses who may not agree with the change in a short period of time by fiat is a bad idea – the change is doomed to be actively resisted at best and to fail at worst.  The bigger the change, the bigger the amount of time required to process it.  Any attempt to force change to happen faster merely causes a backlash against that change.  In the workplace that results in passive and aggressive behavior:  refusing to use the new process, intentionally working slowly to punish those forcing the change, excessive sick days, negative comments passed behind the backs of those making the change, etc.  In society, imagine failure to recognize the change as the best case, with actual violence as the worst case.

When a minority (numerically) wins a victory over the majority, they must behave as a good winner.  That means acknowledging the loser’s value even though they have not triumphed, and choosing not to emphasize the loser’s attributes/mistakes/ability.  “Yay, we won!” not “Yay, you lost!”  Then, the losers need to be given space to grieve for their loss and incorporate the new reality into their worldview.  Pressing for the next concession immediately is only going to infuriate those who are already wounded by the decision.  That puts them in fight or flight mode, and with societal change flight isn’t really a possibility.

It boosts erection quality and helps to maintain stiffness of the male organ for complete lovemaking act to satisfy your female in bed. tadalafil 20mg india Nowadays, the effective solutions are becoming affordable too as the related agencies are taking steps to make their assistance affordable for reaching to more number order levitra online of clients. But the impotence is a common disease among the drug of options when dealing with a particular kind of impotence that is difficult to treat using medicine. viagra wholesale uk The problem is not only canada viagra cialis restricted to old men either. This is a huge gain – in NJ in 178 days gays and lesbians will have full spousal rights after getting married/unioned.  It’s a complete win in all except the name.  Take the win, act gracefully, and if the term “marriage” is really so important come back later and push for it.  Come back in 2, 5, 10, 20 years and have the law changed to match what society is (will already be) doing – recognizing gay unions as marriages.  And that’s what my title means.  It’s not “quit while you’re ahead”, it’s “PAUSE while you’re ahead”.  Give the straight, non-supportive community time to process the change in their lives and build a track record where the world doesn’t end when the gay couple next door get married.

Let’s face it, time is on the side of the gay community.  Polls show that gay rights are increasingly supported by the public, and that the support is more positive among those who are younger.  Time will finally erase the stigma incorrectly applied to non-heterosexuals, but it will take time.  Just as it has taken time to reduce racism and gender bias.

Winners have a responsibility to losers to ensure that the loss is not so painful that the losers walk away from the game (or worse, change the rules to cause the winners to lose next time).  Losers have a responsibility to accept the loss and act graciously towards winners.  Both must do this because next time, they could be on the other side.

This principle is too often lost in today’s society, religion, and politics.

NJ and Gay Marriage

October 26, 2006 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs, Life, Religion 

In case you missed it, the NJ Supreme Court made an important ruling on gay marriage yesterday.  In a 4-3 vote, the court ruled that while the NJ Constitution does not guarantee the right to “marry” to gay people, the court requires that the NJ legislature in the next 180 days pass laws to give all rights, privileges and responsibilities of married straight couples to committed gay couples.  Those include:

  1. a surname change without petitioning the court (after a marriage or union)
  2. ownership of property as tenants by the entirety, which would allow for both automatic transfer of ownership on death, and protection against severance and alienation
  3. survivor benefits under New Jersey’s Workers’ Compensation Act
  4. back wages owed to a deceased spouse
  5. compensation available to spouses, children, and other relatives of homicide victims under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act
  6. free tuition at any public institution of higher education for surviving spouses and children of certain members of the New Jersey National Guard
  7. tuition assistance for higher education for spouses and children of volunteer firefighters and first-aid responders
  8. tax deductions for spousal medical expenses
  9. an exemption from the realty transfer fee for transfers between spouses
  10. the testimonial privilege given to the spouse of an accused in a criminal action
  11. the requirement for an employer to extend health care coverage to a spouse
  12. statutory leave to care for an ill spouse
  13. the requirement that a bequest is automatically revoked to a spouse after a divorce
  14. the requirement for an estate to pay for support and maintenance of a surviving spouse when a will is contested
  15. parentage, custody, visitation and child support rights when a child is born during a marriage
  16. support requirements after a divorce (alimony)

It is important to note that the minority set of 3 justices in this case filed a dissent stating that they would prefer to grant marriage rights to homosexuals immediately rather than letting the legislature take action.  That means a 7-0 unanimous vote for gay marriage in some form, and a 4-3 split on whether or not to use the word “marriage”.

At least one state legislator has announced her intention to create an amendment to the NJ constitution restricting marriage to one man and one woman.  Another legislator has announced his intent to create and amendment to the NJ constitution to specifically redefine marriage to include gay couples.  Yet another legislator has announced his intention to impeach all justices involved.

I applaud this ruling.  I want to make my feelings and beliefs very clear.
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While growing up, I was subject to the misconceptions and outright lies about gay people told to me by my parents.  I remember one conversation in the car at about age 13 in particular – so vividly that I remember exactly where on the street we were when it took place.  In that conversation, my parents informed me that all gays were diseased, that they all had sex with anybody and regularly had multiple partners, and that they were all drug addicts.  In their defense I will state that we do have one gay cousin on my mother’s side who at the time did fit all of that.  My parents’ bigoted attitude is shocking to me, particularly given their more permissive and understanding attitudes towards racial issues, gender issues, and even those of other religions.  Since then their attitudes have softened a bit but they are still against homosexuality in general and gay marriage in particular.

Luckily for me, my church activities brought me into contact with homosexual people.  At events like the Synod meeting and the Presbyterian Youth Triennium I came in contact with Presbyterians for Lesbian and Gay Concerns (PLGC – now known as More Light Presbyterians).  I discovered a group of people who had the same life issues that I had – going to work, buying groceries, changing cat litter, etc.  These were folks wrestling with the same issues that I did – issues of faith, issues of life.  Unfortunately, these folks also had other issues – being accepted in society, being accepted in the church.

Shortly after that I found that I had some gay friends at college.  Again – just regular folks who prefer romantic partners of the same gender.  All of the same joys and concerns were there, including building solid romantic relationships with one person and searching for a lifetime partner.  The only difference was that I couldn’t talk to others openly about these friends for fear of what others might do to them.

And that has continued until today.  I have one good friend that I met through camp who is a lesbian and in the middle of her search for a soulmate.  She may have found that soulmate now and I celebrate as I watch that relationship grow.  She’s having to make up for lost time – the issues that society (and particularly the church) have with her sexuality have slowed down her personal growth in relationship areas but she’s moving along now and will probably catch up soon.

So – to be clear.

I am in favor of full equal rights for homosexuals.  I include bisexuals and transgendered people in that group.

I am in favor of full marriage rights under the name “marriage” for a joining of two people of the same sex.

I am opposed to polygamy.

I feel that polygamy, bestiality and pedophilia are often linked to homosexuality by those whose arguments against homosexuality are weak.  This linkage is false.

I am in favor of full rights including marriage for homosexual couples within the church.  I have read the biblical arguments for and against.  I remain unconvinced that the Bible passages used to prohibit homosexuality are actually speaking of a committed relationship as opposed to temple rituals or prostitution.  Additionally, there is clear speech from Jesus regarding marriage, but there is also clear speech from Jesus regarding divorce and we seem to be free to ignore that as well.  In short – in the face of contradictory biblical arguments I must go where the Spirit leads me, and that is this position.

I believe that all parties in this debate must learn to speak to each other.  The folks at both extremes talk past each other.  On the one hand, the gay lobby fails to take into account the beliefs and fears of those who oppose them.  On the other hand, the anti-gay lobby fails to take into account God’s creation of gay people, the fallacy of choice of sexuality, and the effect on people’s lives that accusations of antisocial behavior hold.

I look forward to the day that I can attend the wedding in NJ of my friend mentioned above.

NJ Congressional Race Preview

October 26, 2004 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs 

This year, the Command Post Election 2004 board has asked me to be a local New Jersey correspondent for this year’s election. I will be posting at that site starting November 1, 2004. This is intended to be fairly objective, though if it is skewed it will likely be due to my general support for liberal causes and Democratic candidates (a fair disclosure, yes?).

In order to get ready, here’s a preview of the NJ Congressional races. All 13 House seats are up for election – neither Senate seat is due for election this year.

Summary: The incumbents are favored heavily in all districts. No House party balance shifts are likely from NJ.

Read more

NJ Governor comes out of closet, resigns

August 12, 2004 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs 

In a press conference that I just watched, NJ Governor Jim McGreevey announced that he has come to the realization that he is “a gay american”. He also stated that he had an affair with another man, and apologized to his wife and family. He announced that he will be resigning effective November 15, 2004.

I watched the news conference via the net. It was a bit bizarre – a very well delivered upbeat speech about a totally unexpected topic.

Yahoo Article

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I am strongly in favor of gay marriage. I am even more strongly against infidelity. I’m glad to see him go.

(A Small Victory chimes in with Michele’s comments.)

NJ Primary Election

June 8, 2004 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Current Affairs 

Today, New Jersey holds it’s annual primary election.

NJ’s primary is one of the latest (if not THE latest) in the whole primary season. As such, it’s worthless for the purpose of choosing a Presidential candidate.

Turnout tends to be low, because it’s meaningless. Something like 1/2 of NJ voters are registered as independents, so they can’t vote at all in the primary. Even for Democrats and Republicans, there are very few contested races.

This year, the Republicans have ZERO contested races. You just walk into the booth, push all the buttons (we’re on digital voting machines now), hit the red button and walk out. It takes longer to get signed in by the old ladies than it does to actually vote.

For the Democrats, only the US President race is contested. The choices are:
John Kerry – a man who seems to change his mind a lot
Lyndon LaRouche – a man in prison (or at least he used to be – I’ve lost track)
Dennis Kucinich – a man who looks like a space alien (and is so far from center that he might as well be one)
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Some choice, eh?

The polls open at 6am. My wife usually votes about 7:30am and I follow her at 7:45am on the way to work. In hotly contested races, there are often 30 or 40 people ahead of us.

Today, I was Democrat number 001. Republican 001 was the only one torn off of that book, so I suspect it was my wife. The old ladies got to sit around from 6am until 7:30am before ANYBODY showed up.

What a waste.

Polls are open until 9pm, if you want to bother.

No More Ladies Night in NJ

The NJ State Division of Civil Rights has ruled that “Ladies’ Night” in bars in the state is illegal.

For those of you not familiar with the concept – Ladies’ Night was a special night each week where the bar allowed women free cover charge and reduced drink prices.

This article from the Home News Tribune details the story.

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I’m a little torn on this one, because it really is discriminatory. However, the whole idea was created to draw women into the bars in the first place on slow weeknights, in order to give men a reason to be there (and to buy drinks). Mr. Gillespie has managed to shoot his entire gender in the foot on this one.

Don’t worry – the Governor (who’s fighting for his job at the moment) is against this ruling, calling it “bureaucratic nonsense”.