|, RECORD EDITORIAL STAFF (NJ)|
"THERE are many reasons to celebrate the Legislature's approval of civil unions. With Governor Corzine's expected signature, New Jersey will become only the fourth state to give same-sex couples the full legal benefits and protections of marriage. The recognition is historic and long overdue.
Hundreds of rights will now follow for partners in civil unions, including rights related to hospital visitation, family leave, adoption, child custody, insurance, wills, inheritance, pensions and benefits.
It is progress at lightning speed, considering how much has been accomplished since October, when the state Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision ordering lawmakers to give same-sex couples their constitutional due.
That lightning speed, however, may become a problem if it turns out that the legislation, which was deliberated on for only 10 days in the state Senate and Assembly, creates a parallel universe for same-sex couples when it comes to pursuing and enjoying their new legal rights.
The New Jersey Bar Association preferred a bill that would have legalized same-sex marriage. Calling a civil union marriage would have simplified things, such as dealings with employers and governmental agencies in other states. The bar association worries that the establishment of civil unions will create a "separate, unequal and unnecessarily complex legal scheme." Will New York employers, for example, easily handle the health and pension benefits of employees living in New Jersey with same-sex partners?
Legislators rushed through the civil-union measures. Supporters wanted more time to examine all the ramifications and afford same-sex couples the strongest legal protections. Opponents wanted more time to campaign for limitations..."
(?= Our Editor's Addition)