A commission established to study same-sex civil unions in New Jersey has found in its first report that civil unions create a "second-class status" for gay couples, rather than giving them equality.
The report stops short of recommending that the state allow gay marriage. But it does find that gay couples in Massachusetts, the only state that now allows same-sex marriage, do not experience some of the legal complications that those in New Jersey do.
The activists say civil unions, in practice, do not offer the legal protections that marriage does. The commission largely agreed with them.
The commission held three public hearings last year at which the majority of the testimony came from people who were in civil unions and said they were still not being treated the way married couples are by government agencies, employers and others.
For instance, the commission found that many companies in the state that are self-insured - and therefore are regulated by federal, rather than state, law - refuse to provide health insurance to the partners of their employees.
While employers in Massachusetts could legally do the same thing, most do not, according to the report.
The commission also finds that many people in the state do not understand civil unions, which create a "second-class status."
The commission's report says the misunderstanding of civil unions makes it more difficult for a child to grow up in New Jersey with gay parents, or to be gay themselves.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Guess what? Separate but equal still isn't equal: