New Jersey lawmakers created civil unions approximately five years ago as an alternate to legalizing gay or same-sex marriages. However, seven gay and lesbian couples feel that the civil union status is inadequate and are now bring a lawsuit that would force to state to legally recognize same-sex marriages.
Despite a New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that New Jersey was required to provide same-sex couples with the same rights and benefits that married couples received, it is alleged in this lawsuit that civil unions do not provide equal protection to same-sex couples. The premise is that civil unions will be treated differently from marriages because other individuals in the state cannot specifically classify what civil unions are supposed to be.
Since defining of the rights owed to same-sex couples will continue to be debated, any couples contemplating either a civil union or same-sex marriage will require able legal assistance to insure that their individual needs are met. Their circumstances will be further complicated if either of the couple have children from a previous marriage and are concerned about visitation and custody issues.
As mentioned in an earlier post on this blog, whether gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to marry rather than have their relationships recognized through civil unions will continue to be a controversial topic. As decisions are concerned same-sex marriage are currently required to be made at state level, New Jersey will continue to see lawsuits such as this filed until the New Jersey or United States Supreme Court comes up with a definitive ruling. Even after such a ruling we can expect continued challenges in the court until the time comes when such unions are accepted by most citizens of the state.
Source: nj.com, “N.J. trying to get lawsuit dismissed that would force state to recognize gay marriage,” Oct. 31, 2011