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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Exhume Vito: New Jersey’s Gay Mobsters Can Get, Uh, Something Or Other

posted by on October 25 at 12:50 PM

Well, not married—unless the legislature allows it. They court is giving them six months to act. They have to extend marriage rights or create some sort of parallel institution.

The New Jersey Supreme Court just ruled in the marriage case. The majority ruled that all the legal protections of marriage must be given to same-sex couples. The legislature is given 180 days either to amend the marriage statutes or to create some other system to give same-sex couples the same legal rights under state law that heterosexuals have (as Vermont, Connecticut and California do). Three of the seven judges would have ruled that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry outright. There were no dissents.

Here’s the decision.

Overheard in the office: “K-boom, there go the Ds chances. This is exactly what they need to rally their Christian base.”

John at Americablog makes a great point: The New Jersey Supreme Court has backed George W. Bush’s stated position on this issue. From Americablog :

George Bush came out in support of gay civil unions before the 2004 election. He believes gay couples should get the benefits of marriage, but not marriage itself. The New Jersey Sup Ct just ruled the same. The rules specifically says NO to gay marriage, but YES to providing some kind of benefits to gay couples. That is George Bush’s position as enunciated prior to the 2004 elections.

The ruling states…

Although we cannot find that a fundamental right to same-sex marriage exists in this State, the unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our State Constitution…. We will not presume that a separate statutory scheme, which uses a title other than marriage, contravenes equal protection principles, so long as the rights and benefits of civil marriage are made equally available to same-sex couples. The name to be given to the statutory scheme that provides full rights and benefits to same-sex couples, whether marriage or some other term, is a matter left to the democratic process.

Here’s George W. Bush in 2004:

President Bush said in an interview this past weekend that he disagreed with the Republican Party platform opposing civil unions of same-sex couples and that the matter should be left up to the states.

Mr. Bush has previously said that states should be permitted to allow same-sex unions, even though White House officials have said he would not have endorsed such unions as governor of Texas. But Mr. Bush has never before made a point of so publicly disagreeing with his party’s official position on the issue…. Mr. Bush said, “I don’t think we should deny people rights to a civil union, a legal arrangement, if that’s what a state chooses to do so.”

“I view the definition of marriage different from legal arrangements that enable people to have rights. And I strongly believe that marriage ought to be defined as between a union between a man and a woman. Now, having said that, states ought to be able to have the right to pass laws that enable people to be able to have rights like others.”

John’s right: Those liberal justices in New Jersey—surely to be condemned for their activism by the right—have merely taken the same position that their Dear Leader, George W. Bush, took in 2004: marriage is not a right, but civil unions should be made available to same-sex couples, so that we may “have rights like others.”

The money shot, courtesy of Rex Wockner:

Denying committed same-sex couples the financial and social benefits and privileges given to their married heterosexual counterparts bears no substantial relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose. The Court holds that under the equal protection guarantee of Article I, Paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, committed same-sex couples must be afforded on equal terms the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples under the civil marriage statutes. The name to be given to the statutory scheme that provides full rights and benefits to same-sex couples, whether marriage or some other term, is a matter left to the democratic process.—The New Jersey Supreme Court, Oct. 25.

Originally posted at 12:25 PM.

RSS icon Comments


I have to say, my first thought after "yay" was, "Oh shit, Menendez is in trouble."

Posted by Brie | October 25, 2006 12:34 PM

NJ > WA ?

Posted by ky | October 25, 2006 12:35 PM

ok 4 said marriage or civil unions. 3 said marriage. that means that we'll get civil unions eventually. i dont think civil unions mobilize the fundies like the m word. we just need the press to quit saying its a homomarriage win. and yes sadly, nj is better than wa.

Posted by blehpunk | October 25, 2006 12:38 PM

while i think that the neo-con assholes will get *some* milage out of this, it isn't as if they are doing the same thing as Massachusetts. new jersey will probably do the same thing as vermont, and create civil unions. well over 50% of americans support that.

Posted by konstantconsumer | October 25, 2006 12:39 PM

Rallying the Christian Base is only going to bring back that sore point: Foley.

I'm not expecting the Dems to take House or Senate anyway, but I don't think this decision will negatively affect the Democrats as much as they think it will. What WILL hurt the Demos more is the Dems themselves who are scared shitless that something like this COULD affect their chances and try to cover up for it.

If the Repubs try to exploit this, one word is needed to fight back: Foley.

Posted by Matthew Fisher Wilder | October 25, 2006 12:40 PM

Here's the AP headline "NJ court stops short of gay marriage OK" thats not very mobilizing. plus i think that after this last attempt at a federal ammendment, people know they are just being used by this issue and it doesnt rally them so much anymore. you can only cry wolf so many times, before even the inbreds get smart to it. Plus the leg. has 180 days to come to an agreement on what to call it. on a side note, happy birthday to that little judge poritz, she's so cute.

Posted by blehpunk | October 25, 2006 12:43 PM

I really don't think this will have much impact on the elections. To the majority of the "Heartland", New Jersey is just part of New York, and to be expected.

It might bring a few more voters out in the states that have anti-marriage initiatives on the ballot, but after all, they didn't approve "marriage"

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | October 25, 2006 12:45 PM

Framing the debate in terms of "legal rights" instead of "gay marriage" is very different. The religious nuts will still be against it, of course, but they are in disarray at the moment, and it's unclear what they would be rallying their base TO at this point. The time for pushing extremist kooks forward into Republican nominations is past, so they are stuck with the R's they've got, who are on some level all Mark Foley's buddies.

And six months from now is after the election.

Posted by Fnarf | October 25, 2006 12:47 PM

My initial reaction was too pessimistic. At least, I hope it was too pessimistic.

Posted by BRADLEY STEINBACHER | October 25, 2006 12:50 PM

There's a tight senate race in New Jersey. This could cost us control of the Senate.

Posted by Dan Savage | October 25, 2006 12:51 PM

i read the opinion's summary and think the justices really did the perfect balancing act. it's a very reasoned argument for rights above all else, which i think resonates well with most people. it flat out says there's no right to same-sex marriage in the constitution, but then dissects the issue into a discussion of rights and benefits, making a compelling case for relationship equality--with whatever name people want to tag it with. i think this will negatively impact the dems, but not much. i think (and hope!) people are smart enough to separate their branches of government when they hit the polls. That a state supreme court ruled on this is not the dems “fault,” per se.

Posted by mirror | October 25, 2006 12:53 PM

it will only be "marriage" if the legislature calls it that. If they dont "call" it "marriage" then it will be totally separate but equal. As a gay man with a partner, this would probably be the only time I'd accept separate but equal. In my opinion, I'd never want to get "married", that's a heterosexual institution. I dont give a rats ass what we call it. Its just that I and my partner are entitled to all the same priviledges given to heterosexual "married" couples. Call it whatever you like, I just want equal treatment.

Posted by matthew | October 25, 2006 12:54 PM

i hope they call it something fun.

Posted by blehpunk | October 25, 2006 12:57 PM

The court has given them 180 days to amend or a parallel institution.

What happens if they do not do anything in 180 days?

Posted by Chris | October 25, 2006 12:59 PM


In New Jersey, due process and equal protection actually mean something! Talk about restoring faith in the judiciary (in NJ anyway).

I’m very happy for the couples in NJ who will soon have equality no matter what form it takes. No one will be able to claim in NJ that we are inhuman or second class citizens any longer.

Attn: Naysayers who claim this dooms the Dems,

If there is a large group of people hate gays and lesbians so much that they’re willing to vote these Republican monsters back into office, then they’ll be getting the government they deserve. The Dems can only win by having better plans, better strategies and better ideas. Don’t blame us!

Posted by Andrew | October 25, 2006 1:00 PM

I think we have a lot more to worry about from Sequoia Voting Systems than anti-gay marriage voters in New Jersey, Dan.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | October 25, 2006 1:02 PM

I don't think this decision will have very much impact in the heartland either, but NJ's incumbent senator is barely leading in just about every poll. The Dems must have NJ in order to get the Senate - the other races are just too close to depend on.

Regardless of how voters in Ohio or Nevada are affected, if enough NJ Republicans get bees in their bonnets about the homos, it practically ensures another Republican-controlled Senate.

Sadly, as fair as the decision is, Republicans are going to be screaming about gays eating your babies and marriage. The only Democratic reply to this is, "No don't worry, they're not getting marriage."

I'm quite pleased with the decision, but just hope the Dems can hold it together for another two weeks.

Posted by Brie | October 25, 2006 1:03 PM

if the democrats actually gave us a reason to vote for them as opposed to simply being the alternative then they wouldn't have to worry about close races. fuck any of those republican-lites who are gunna blame the homos for their narrow losses.

Posted by blehpunk | October 25, 2006 1:09 PM


I honestly don't care about the "marriage" part so much either as that, to me, it a religious classification. But I want the legal equivalent without spending $20k at my local attorney's office.

Posted by monkey | October 25, 2006 1:31 PM

Please also note that the New Jersey Supreme Court’s compassionate, well-reasoned, logical decision is the exact opposite of the dishonest, hypocritical and despicable decision handed down by our Washington Supreme Court.

In your face Gerry Alexander, Charles Johnson, Barbara Madsen, Richard Sanders and Jim Johnson!

Posted by Andrew | October 25, 2006 1:36 PM

I love you, Dannycakes.

Posted by Seth | October 25, 2006 1:41 PM

The "money shot" in Dan's post is the same money shot that WA SupCo used to nail us to the wall, the substantial relationship to legitimate government purpose test. In NJ, the gov't has no legitimate purpose to deny GLBT folks equal protection. In WA, apparently, the gov't does.

As far as timing, I'll say it again: If we wait for perfect timing, we'll wait forever.

Posted by SB | October 25, 2006 1:52 PM

I'd like to be part of the brainstorming session to come up with the name of the new, equal -- but separate, oh, yes, we mustn't let the queers in without an armband -- institution.

Let's see... Marriage v2.0? Emancipated Marriage? JustLikeMarriageOnyBetter? Matching Parts Union?

Posted by David Summerlin | October 25, 2006 1:56 PM

justice over expedience! menendez's problem isn't gay marriage, it's corruption. at least he's a smooth talker.

Posted by annie | October 25, 2006 2:05 PM

All I can say is the fewer letters to the editor about this issue, the better.

Wait until Nov. 8.

Posted by Will in Seattle | October 25, 2006 2:31 PM

Icantbelieveitsnotmarriage @ David Summerlin

Posted by monkey | October 25, 2006 2:37 PM

"I Can't Believe It's Not Marriage" is very, very good. Rascal.

But now I can't get other substitute products out of my head.

Marriagerine. Marriage Beaters. Cool Marriage. Marriage Mate. Queer-n-Married. MoFu (I know: soy-marriage products aren't really a _substitute_.) Marriage Lite. Marriageeta.

Posted by David Summerlin | October 25, 2006 3:17 PM

why doesnt the stranger have a contest to name the gay marriage?

Posted by blehpunk | October 25, 2006 3:18 PM

why doesnt the stranger have a contest to name the gay marriage?

Posted by blehpunk | October 25, 2006 3:18 PM

mmmm mofu. i think all of those homos in nj should run to the marriage license office now and get the docs. cos im sure a lot of the workers won't know they arent supposed to wait. then it will already be called the marriage.

Posted by blehpunk | October 25, 2006 3:48 PM

I feel so bad for the Democratic Party. Here they are, minding their own business, saying as little as they possibly can about equality and constitutional rights and liberty and those foolish, selfish, traitorous homosexuals are going to ruin everything because of this decision.

It hardly seems fair that the Democrats should lose because LGBT people have a right to equal protections. What a horrible shame!

Let's make sure we are really quiet and hide in our attics when celebrating the NJ decision. We have to be really quiet and not write any letters or demand any respect from Democrats until after the election. obedient. Dont ask Democrats to do anything...they will do the right thing on their own, right? As soon as they have power, right? Now, get into the attic....shhhhhhhhhhhh

Posted by patrick C | October 25, 2006 6:40 PM

NJ is way more progressive than this shithole state. Fuck all you snobs who feels so superior to NJ!

Posted by ellie | October 25, 2006 7:36 PM

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