CommunityPam's House Blend

NJ polls: more support civil unions over marriage

After last month’s ruling by the NJ Supreme Court that gay and lesbian couples must be given all the rights married couples have, polls have shown that civil unions, rather than expanding the definition of marriage, is polling better. (365gay):

The leadership in the Legislature and Gov. Jon Corzine (D) have said they favor civil unions, but have indicated they are in no rush to proceed with legislation despite the time limit imposed by the court.

The Quinnipiac survey asked people if they thought the legislature should enact a marriage law for same-sex couples found 50 per cent were opposed. Forty-one percent were in favor.

The poll also found that support for gays and lesbian couples marrying varied with age. Slightly more than three out of five people between the ages of 18 and 34 supported same-sex marriage. Among voters over 65 support was only one in five.

At this point, it’s a matter of semantics in my opinion. If all rights granted to married het couples are also given to same-sex couples in the form of civil unions, then that’s a battle won at the ground level.

Why? Because neither solution grants gay and lesbian couples the federal rights extended to married couples, or deals with the legal status of the arrangement outside the state — that’s something the states have no control over. It’s all going to end up at the U.S. Supreme anyway, and that could take years.

For same-sex couples, they need those rights now. It’s better, given the amendment battles, to have legal equivalance at the state level when it is possible, than murkiness for years to come while children are taken away from the non-birth parent if there is a dispute after a death, or hospital visitation and powers of attorney are challenged, etc.

The rub is that while all of this in flux, little can be done to protect gay and lesbian couples who live in states that have passed amendments that nullify/preclude domestic partnerships and civil unions. Those couples are simply going to have to decide whether to hunker down in hostile territory (by choice or circum$tance) or make it a priority to relocate to a state where they are not in legal jeopardy.

Marriage equality must be fought for, but not to the exclusion of legal gains in the right direction that will make a huge difference in the lives of same-sex families now.

Until it ends up in SCOTUS, there’s going to be a patchwork or rights granted and taken away based on bigotry — and education. It’s clear, particularly with the passage of an amendment in Wisconsin by such a large margin (59%-41%), that allies are woefully undereducated about the impact of such a measure. There’s a lot of work ahead.

Where do you stand, given the progress and setbacks so far?

Previous post

SLDN's annual dinner to honor 'The L Word'

Next post

Massachusetts Constitutional Convention debate over marriage equality

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding