On February 16, 2012, New Jersey became the third state in American history to pass a marriage equality bill that would recognize same-sex marriage. However, in the shadows of the celebration in the state and national GLBT communities, stands the February 17th veto of Governor Chris Christie.
“[The Feb. 16] milestone came in the face of the toughest obstacles in the history of the marriage equality movement. Instead of a Governor twisting arms on our behalf, we have a Governor who twisted arms against us right up until the final votes in each chamber [of the legislature],” Garden State Equality Chair and CEO Steven Goldstein said in a statement before the Governor’s veto. Christie would prefer a state-wide referendum and let the voters of New Jersey decide the case.
The Governor’s veto has implications for universal marriage equality and may set a precedent for other states where similar marriage equality bills are on the ballot. While the legislature has until the end of the current term in Jan. 2014 to over ride the Governor’s veto, New Jersey still honors civil unions for same-sex couples and recognizes those from other jurisdictions.
Civil Unions in New Jersey provide GLBT couples with the same benefits and rights as “married” couples within the state. However, there continue to be significant differences outside of the State of New Jersey and on a Federal level. GLBT couples should seek legal advice to ensure they are fully protected and to discuss the rights and benefits that accrue to them as in the State of New Jersey under a Civil Union.