By GEOFF MULVIHILL, Associated Press Writer
3 minutes ago
TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey’s highest court opened the door Wednesday to making the state the second in the nation to allow gay marriage, ruling
that lawmakers must offer homosexuals either marriage or something like it, such as civil unions.
Analysis of political implications of the decision from Glenn Greenwald, posted at Crooks and Liars:
(1) There is nothing new here. The ruling today is almost identical to what the Vermont Supreme Court ruled seven years ago, back in 1999 — namely, that the state constitution requires that same-sex couples have the same rights and privileges as married couples, but it is up to the democratic processes (the legislature) to decide whether to allow gay couples to “marry” (as opposed to enter civil unions).
(2) Today’s decision is very limited in scope and reach. After the Vermont ruling, the Vermont legislature enacted a domestic partnership bill (signed into law by then-Gov. Howard Dean) in order to comply with the court decision. That bill gave full rights to same-sex domestic partnerships but did not legalize gay marriage, and it thus had no impact on anyone other than Vermont residents. That is almost certain to happen here.
(3) The decision today is entirely consistent with the democratic will of New Jersey residents. The New Jersey legislature already enacted a domestic partnership bill two years ago which recognizes, and grants a whole array of marital rights to, same-sex couples. But the way the laws were written, some rights were still assigned only to “married” couples. The court decision today simply requires that those same-sex partnerships have all of the rights which are given to married couples. But New Jersey voters, through their representatives, already approved of recognition of same-sex relationships two years ago.
(4) Finally, a majority of Americans have long (since at least 2004) approved of civil unions of the sort which this decision mandates. The decision is purely within the mainstream of American beliefs. It is those who oppose not just gay marriages, but also civil unions, who are on the fringe. Polls even show that the anti-gay-marriage referenda which Republicans placed on the ballot this year in states such as Virginia and Wisconson have far less support than they did in the past. The ability of Bush followers to distract from their ineptitude and corruption by demonizing gay people and exploiting the gay marriage issue is rapidly diminishing.