ACLU of New Jersey Applauds Passage of Landmark Domestic Partnership Legislation

Affiliate: ACLU of New Jersey
January 8, 2004 12:00 am

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Statement of Deborah Jacobs, Executive Director, ACLU of New Jersey


NEWARK — Today the New Jersey Senate joined the New Jersey Assembly in approving domestic partnership legislation that will extend some of the legal rights traditionally given to married people to same-sex couples as well as opposite-sex couples over the age of 62.

The bill, which now awaits the Governor’s promised signature, will make New Jersey the fifth state in the nation to adopt a domestic partnership law.

The ACLU lauds those legislators who have shown leadership in granting protections to individuals who suffer hardship due to lack of legal recognition of their primary relationships. The Domestic Partnership Act affords such recognition, including hospital visitation, making emergency medical decisions, claiming each other as exemptions on state income tax filings and qualifying for exemptions from inheritance taxes. It also requires the state to provide dependent health coverage to employees with same-sex partners.

Gay and lesbian couples in committed relationships have fought for decades for domestic partnership protection. Anyone who knows people denied these fundamental rights knows how searing it is to be without them. The lack of recognition of these intimate committed relationships burdens not only the couples in these relationships, but their children as well.

The ACLU of New Jersey is in fact currently involved in a related lawsuit involving the child of a same-sex couple who was denied Social Security benefits following the death of his non-biological parent who was the breadwinner for the family but who died before adoption proceedings had taken place. (For more information on that case, go to /node/9565)

The granting of equal relationship rights is one of the burning social issues of our time, with change taking place through legislation and court decisions across the country. Society has increasingly recognized that the government should support, not discourage, couples who want to share fully the rights, responsibilities and commitments of domestic partnership.

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