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Coming Soon: New Jersey Gay Marriage Law?

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By Minara El-Rahman on December 09, 2009 1:54 PM

The New York Times reports that there is a proposed New Jersey gay marriage law working its way through the state's legislature.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted yes on clearing a New Jersey gay marriage bill for a vote by the full state Senate this upcoming Monday.

According to the New York Times, the approval for the gay marriage bill was the first time a legislative body has approved of a bill for same-sex marriage.

This approval comes at the heels of the New York State Senate's rejection of a gay marriage bill last week.

That blow coupled with the uncertainty of the gay marriage bill in New Jersey has made gay marriage advocates more vocal than ever.

This has been an emotional push for many who believe that legal rights should be accessible to all Americans. Julian Bond, chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was quotd by the New York Times as saying, "Gay rights are civil rights."

While New Jersey allows civil unions at the moment, it is not same as a civil marriage. A civil marriage allows a married couple rights such as the right to visit a partner in the hospital or to have coverage on a family insurance policy.

Do civil unions and domestic partnerships offer the same rights and protections as marriage?

The extent to which civil unions and domestic partnerships give the same protections as marriage depends on the wording of the particular law.

In Vermont, the civil union law extends all of the rights and benefits of marriage to partners in a civil union, but the domestic partnership laws of many cities and counties in the U.S. provide only limited rights, such as hospital visitation privileges.

How Does This Affect New Jersey's Same-Sex Couples?

Same-sex couples in New Jersey do not have the same rights granted to them as heterosexual married couples. For example, many complain that they do not receive the same health coverage benefits received by married heterosexual couples.

The New York Times quotes lesbian couple Marsha Shapiro and Louise Walpin as saying, "The State of New Jersey has promised us the right to equal legal protection. Our family has suffered enough. Please support us and give us the legal protection that we need."

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