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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Op-Ed: New Jersey Marriage '08 -
Start Your Engines
By Evan Wolfson
(wiki) of Freedom to Marry
Sat Jan 06, 2007 (via BLUE JERSEY )

When Governor Corzine signed New Jersey's civil union bill into law late last year, he kicked off the next and last stage of the work to secure the full measure of protection and dignity that is every family's due, and which civil union fails to deliver. And so we turn now to the months of persuasion and persistence needed to win all committed couples in New Jersey the freedom to marry, shimmering within our reach.

Fortunately, we have a lot on which to build. First, thanks to Lambda Legal's case, the unanimous ruling of the NJ Supreme Court, and the creative and constant public education and outreach by Garden State Equality and its amazing array of gay and non-gay organizations and partners - including BlueJersey.com, and its series of engaging ads - it's clear that the people of New Jersey are ready to accept an end to the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. Had the legislative leaders and the governor stepped forward following the Supreme Court ruling and said that the time is now for full equality, not place-holders, New Jersey would have embraced it (and rapidly come to see, as have the people of Massachusetts, that equality in marriage means families helped and no one hurt; gay couples don't use up all the marriage licenses and there is plenty of marriage to share).

Unfortunately, NJ's political leaders seized on the unsurprising polls that showed that in the immediate aftermath of the decision, a majority was also comfortable with the intermediate step of a parallel, lesser status, and they rushed to that place-holder. Happily, an intense blitz by Garden State Equality, Lambda Legal, and an unprecedented collaboration of movement organizations (the Task Force, HRC, ACLU, MassEquality, and New York's Pride Agenda) and funders made clear to the politicians that those of us committed to equal treatment and full inclusion will not rest until couples have the freedom to marry itself. As a result, Senate President Codey and Assembly Speaker Roberts, along with many other key legislators and leaders, have now acknowledged that marriage itself is the goal, that it is do-able, and that it must be done - soon. Gov. Corzine has already promised to sign a marriage bill into law.

Garden State Equality has called on all who believe in fairness to hold these leaders to their word, and, with the help of all of us, has pledged a massive effort to win the freedom to marry in New Jersey within the next two years.

As the new year dawns, ...

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