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a personal tale of civil union

i thought i would take this time to post my personal experience going to get a new jersey civil union license. steph and i have been together for about two years. we got married last august in toronto and are planning a big shindig for this summer. we decided to apply for a license immediately just in case they try to void the laws because we’ve been told they can’t take away the rights retroactively. we decided better safe than sorry and so we decided to get civil unioned on friday.

the offices are closed yesterday because of the holiday (although  in some towns they stayed open so that gay couples can get their licenses, but that was not the case for our town).

steph and i went this morning to get our license for our civil union. so here’s how it all breaks down: you go to the clerk in the town in which you live bringing with you proof or residency, a passport, your social security number, and a witness. you fill out a form where you are listed as “applicants a and b.”

the town clerk shows us a marriage license telling us that ours will be exactly the same as that license except it will say “civil union” at the top. he hasn’t gotten those forms yet. and that right there is where we realize that we are not equal. the clerk tells us that all of his forms are now worthless and have to be thrown out. pallets of paperwork in trenton must go in the trash because of this new arrangement. had they just allowed queer people to get married they could have saved their forms.

we are the first civil union this clerk has filed. he doesn’t have a lot of answers for us. we are told to come back on friday where we will pick up our license. really, we should have been able to get the 72 hour waiting period waived because our marriage is legal in toronto, but our clerk didn’t seem to know anything about that, and so we are forced to reapply and wait. once we have our ceremony friday night the minister will file our license with the town where we have the ceremony and it will be kept on file there and registered with the state of new jersey.

in order to change our names we take our license to the dmv and other such places and change the name. it sounds easy, but i have the feeling there will be bugs to be worked out there as well.

so i guess once our license is filed we automatically get the rights of married folks, but are still kept out of the name.

one of the rights of the civil unions allows steph and i to take each others last names or to hyphenate our names (except the actual hyphen is not required (that was actually written in the documenation)) but there are also some complications surrounding whether or not we’ll be able to change our names on a federal level. because the government doesn’t recognize our relationship we may not be able to change our names on things such as passports and social security cards. we may have to file legal name change documents for the federal stuff.

so that’s the basic gist of what’s going on. i’ll keep updating as i know more.

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