By GEOFF MULVIHILL, Associated Press Writer
via Marriage Equality NY (MENY)
MOUNT LAUREL -- Gay couples who are married in Massachusetts, Canada or other places where same-sex marriage is allowed will have all the rights of married people in New Jersey as of Monday, the state Attorney General's Office decided Friday.
"New Jersey should consider those couples to be in civil unions rather than marriages"New Jersey should consider those couples to be in civil unions rather than marriages, Attorney General Stuart Rabner said in the opinion for the state Department of Health and Senior Services, which is responsible for registering civil unions. Civil unions, which will be available in New Jersey starting Monday, grant all the benefits of marriage -- but not the title -- to gay couples.
Gay rights activists had mixed reaction to the decision. They were happy to have the clarity and to learn that the civil unions will be granted automatically, but also voiced concern about possible discrimination.
''In the nick of time before next week, the attorney general has given peace of mind to a lot of families,'' said David S. Buckel, the director of the Marriage Law Project for Lambda Legal.
However, Buckel, along with lawyers with the ACLU of New Jersey and Garden State Equality -- the state's main gay political group -- said that not recognizing marriages from elsewhere is unfair and possibly discriminatory.
"New Jersey should not be in the business of stripping individuals and couples of rights they already lawfully obtained,'' said Ed Barocas, the legal director of the ACLU in New Jersey. Steven Goldstein, the executive director of Garden State Equality, said he expected that litigation would be filed over the issue...