A revealing and biting piece written by the CEO of Garden State Equality sheds light on civil union legislation in New Jersey – and how it effects companies like UPS.
CEO Steven Goldstein goes back to the planning stages of the bill in his NJ.com blog.
“Last December, when it became obvious the New Jersey legislature would not give same-sex couples the freedom to marry, we sat down with legislative staffers 72 hours before the first legislative hearing to get the very best civil unions bill we could”. Though legislative leaders had publicly stated their support for marriage equality, they just didn’t want to deal with the issue before the 2007 election year.
“We knew, of course, that without the universally understood label of “marriage,” the relationships of same-sex couples would never be treated as equal in the real world. That, of course, is exactly what’s happened.
“But given the politics of last fall, our options were limited. So behind the scenes, we specifically proposed that the civil unions bill at least refer to civil-unioned couples as “spouses” throughout the text. Guess what? The legislature said no, wanting to take the path of least resistance.
“The legislature gave plenty of room to companies to interpret the civil unions law as not viewing same-sex couples as spouses.
“Thankfully, a growing number of legislators who supported civil unions last December, but who were not ready to support real marriage equality legislation yet, now believe the legislature should go all the way.
“These legislators are astonished at the mess the civil unions law has created. They recognize that the state’s separate-and-unequal civil unions law, giving same-sex couples a label inferior to marriage, will always be an open invitation to companies to discriminate.
“Too many companies in New Jersey have already accepted the invitation. As of today, Garden State Equality has heard from 216 couples across New Jersey who report that their employers are not respecting New Jersey’s civil unions law and thus won’t provide equal benefits to civil-unioned employees.”