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Monday, June 18, 2007

Commission begins review of civil unions

Commission begins review of civil unions

Posted by Robert Schwaneberg June 18, 2007 3:22PM

Categories: News, Statehouse

The state announced today that more than 1,000 same-sex couples have applied to form civil unions as a commission convened to study whether that new legal relationship really does convey all the benefits of marriage by another name.

At its organizational meeting in Trenton, the 13-member New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission elected as its chairman J. Frank Vespa-Papaleo, the director of the state Division on Civil Rights.

The commission also elected Steven Goldstein as vice-chairman. Goldstein, appointed by Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts (D-Camden) as one of seven public members on the commission, chairs the gay rights organization Garden State Equality.

Joe Komosinski, the state registrar of vital statistics, told his fellow commission members that as of Friday, 1,092 same-sex couples - 671 female couples and 421 male couples - had applied to form civil unions.

The law creating civil unions went into effect Feb. 19. It also established the review commission to evaluate how effective civil unions are at providing same-sex couples the benefits of marriage and to determine whether additional protections are needed. The commission has three years to complete its task and plans to issue twice-yearly updates to the Legislature.

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