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The Overturning Of Doma Extends No Additional Benefits For New Jersey Couples In Civil Unions

The Supreme Court’s ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as unconstitutional means that, married same sex couples in the 13 states and the District of Columbia which recognize same sex marriage will be entitled to full federal and recognition of their unions. However, that ruling only applies to marriages and not to civil unions. This does not render a civil union valueless. There remain many benefits to couples who enter into civil unions in New Jersey including, rights relating to family benefits, emergency medical care and hospital visitation, inheritance, access to the courts for family issues, termination of a civil union and parenting issues pertaining to the children of the couple, joint ownership of property, insurance, health and pension benefits, state public assistance benefits and privileges not to testify against a civil union partner in court proceedings. So merely because the overturning of DOMA does not yet offer benefits to New Jersey couples this does not mean that a civil union is not a valuable option for a couple choosing that option.