MARRIAGE DIGEST: New Jersey governor would sign 'gay marriage' bill, after election
TRENTON, N.J. (BP)--New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine Feb. 19 signaled he would sign a bill legalizing "gay marriage" -– just not before the November elections.
Homosexual activists in the state are pressuring the legislature to pass such a bill, arguing that the current civil unions law -– which grants same-sex couples the legal benefits of marriage -– is insufficient.
"He will sign a bill, but doesn't want to make it a presidential election year issue," Corzine spokeswoman Lilo Stainton said, according to the Associated Press.
But Corzine's public position likely will make "gay marriage" an issue, although to what degree remains to be seen. Corzine, a Democrat, reportedly made the same pledge last year at an informal gathering of the New York chapter of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.
Although Massachusetts remains the only state to recognize "gay marriage," other states could follow within the year. High court decisions in Connecticut and California are expected in coming months, and Iowa's Supreme Court will hear a case as well.
New Jersey's civil unions law was court-mandated in 2006, when the New Jersey Supreme Court ordered legislators to grant homosexual couples the same legal benefits married couples have. To the chagrin of homosexual activists, the legislature chose to legalize civil unions, and not "gay marriage." Immediately, "gay marriage" supporters pledged to continue the fight.
"New Jersey's civil union law segregates, discriminates and humiliates the very people it is supposed to help," Steven Goldstein, chairman of the homosexual group Garden State Equality, said, according to the AP.
Goldstein's comments came after the Civil Union Review Commission -– made up of government appointees -– issued a report Feb. 19 saying the civil unions law falls short of its goal because private employers ignore it by not providing homosexual couples the same spousal benefits married couples have.
"The report does raise significant concerns about whether the law has effectively granted same-sex couples the same rights and benefits of every other family in the state," Corzine said.
Conservatives said the commission was stacked with supporters of "gay marriage."
"In the end, the truth is, the homosexual lobby wants same sex marriage for one reason -- to use the power of the state to force heterosexuals to approve of homosexual activity and relationships," said Assemblyman Richard Merkt, a Republican, told AP.
Democrats control the New Jersey House and Senate.
IND. MARRIAGE AMEND. LIKELY DEAD -– A proposed constitutional marriage amendment is likely dead in Indiana even though a majority of members of the House of Representatives have signed a petition saying they support it. The amendment previously passed the Senate.
The petition has signatures from 48 Republicans and seven Democrats, giving it support by 55 of the 100 members in the House, AP said. But because Democrats hold a slim 51-49 edge, and because Democratic leaders oppose it, it likely won't come up for a vote. House Speaker Patrick Bauer opposes it, as does Democratic Rep. Scott Pelath, who heads a key committee that would consider the proposal.
The proposal's defeat would be significant because amending the Indiana constitution involves a lengthy five-step process. It must pass the House and Senate in one legislative session, then pass those same bodies again in the next (a total of four steps). It passed the House and Senate in the previous legislature, but when Democrats gained the House in 2006, the amendment stalled. It has passed the Senate twice. The fifth and final step for the amendment would be approval by voters –- a step which would take place this year if it passed the House. But if it does not pass the House this session, the entire five-step process must start from the beginning, meaning the amendment would not go before voters until 2012 at the earliest.
RELIGIOUS DIVIDE IN CALIF. -– A closely watched "gay marriage" case before the California Supreme Court also has divided conservative and liberal religious groups. Among the groups that have signed friend-of-the-court briefs urging the court to uphold the current law that protects natural, traditional marriage are the National Association of Evangelicals, the California Catholic Conference, the Mormons and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Among the groups urging "gay marriage" to be legalized are the Unitarians, the United Church of Christ, the Union for Reform Judaism and the Soka Gakkai branch of Buddhism, the newspaper said.
Former U.S. Solicitor General Kenneth Starr is representing the conservative groups.
In court briefs, Starr argues that his clients' argument is not based on religious doctrine, but on "historical and sociological facts about what marriage has always been across time and cultures." The people and the legislature, he said, should be the ultimate deciders on the issue.
"We have seen at close range the enormous benefits that traditional male-female marriage imparts," he wrote, according to the Chronicle. "We have also witnessed the substantial adverse consequences for children that often flow from alternative household arrangements."
The "inescapable truth," he said, is that "children need their mothers and fathers, and that society needs mothers and fathers to raise their children."
Michael Foust is an assistant editor for Baptist Press.