The NJ Supreme Court made a ruling that is sure to have opponents of Gay Marriage in disarray, but at its heart was probably the best ruling that could be expected, when it is analyzed.
The ruling essentially said that gays were entitled to equal protection and the Legislature had to do one of two things: Either open a path for gay marriage, or make some manner of equivalent civil unions available.
So why is this good? First of all for what the court did not do. It did not declare them legal on their face, an act that is commonly denounced as judicial activism. Instead it deferred to the Legislature to deal with the issue, as it should be. However the state legislature chooses to do so, it is better then a 7 person court making a ruling in its place. This is another in a string of recent rulings in which the Court's have clearly determined that the Legislature is the proper place for these decisions, and deferred.
The other reason I like the substance of the ruling is that it identifies the validity of what I have long believed, and that is that the real answer here is civil unions.
As I have detailed several times (here and here), the issue could easily be solved fairly and equally by making the states offer civil unions to all couples, regardless of gender. Take the government out of the endorsement of marriage altogether.
Let the churches bestow marriages on any couple they choose, according to their dogma and doctrine. Those marriages would have no force of law, they would only be recognition within the community.
This makes sense when you consider that the primary issue at stake in the debate is not social recognition, it is state and federal benefits that are bestowed upon married couples, and not (generally) on gays.
The bad news is that none of this offers any help at the Federal level where the most benefits available are still locked out to same sex marriages, and by all predictions will continue to be.
Also in the bad news column for pro gay marriage folks is the Washington State Supreme Court's decision not to revisit an earlier decision that was seen as quite a setback. That previous decision upheld the State's 1996 ban on gay marriage.
What will be interesting to watch is whether there is a federal appeal, or if the NJ ruling will stand on its own. Then we will see how the NJ lawmakers deal with the problem now dropped in their laps.Reposted from http://leaningstraightup.com/2006/10/26/nj-weighs-in-on-gay-marriage-washington-declines/ Posted by guitarplayr at October 26, 2006 01:01 AM | Email This