Tuesday, June 19, 2007

You know what they say about separate but equal

A while ago, New Jersey's State Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples must be given all the rights and benefits that married opposite-sex couples enjoy. So New Jersey passed a law allowing civil unions, but said bill also established a commission that every six months would determine whether the law was doing what it was supposed to. It first met recently:
At its first meeting on Monday the Civil Union Review Commission elected as its chair J. Frank Vespa-Papaleo, the director of New Jersey's Division on Civil Rights, as as its vice-chair, longtime gay activist Steven Goldstein the head of Garden State Equality.

Vespa-Papaleo told the 12 other commissioners that the Division on Civil Rights has had about 360 inquiries, but only one official complaint - from a medical assistant who said the two firms he works for had both refused to provide health benefits for his civil union partner that are available to married spouses.

In his complaint Robert S. Kleid said he had been turned down by the New York City-based Tri-State Professional Employment Organization and by Minimed Care of Chester, N.J..

Goldstein said that despite only one official complaint to the Division his organization has had nearly 150 complaints of companies not abiding by the law and said the legislation is flawed and not working.

Although the civil unions law gives same-sex couples the same rights and responsibilities as marriage it is not recognized by a growing number of companies - all with federally regulated benefit plans.


Nearly one in eight couples who have had civil unions have been turned down for company benefits Goldstein said.

The article ends by saying that "[i]t is generally expected the report will call for the legalization of same-sex marriage in New Jersey," but doesn't say who "generally expect[s]" this, much less whether the legislature would do such a thing.

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