Commission Reveals Law's Flaws

NJ Civil Unions Failing, Says Official

Despite what well-meaning politicians may say, civil unions are not the same as marriage. Not convinced? Just look at New Jersey, which has been officially recognizing civil unions for the past eight months.

New Jersey’s 8-month-old civil union law has failed to live up to its promise of giving same-sex couples all the protections of marriage by another name, the state’s top official for enforcing civil rights said yesterday.

Civil Rights Director Frank Vespa-Papaleo, who chairs a commission that recently concluded three hearings on how the new law is working, said, “To me as a commissioner, the testimony revealed overwhelmingly that the civil union law has been a failure. It is not working as effectively as if the word ‘marriage’ were used… That could be controversial. I could lose my job for saying that.”

Vespa-Papaleo cites the UPS debacle: the international courier originally – and rightfully – refused to treat civil unions as marriages, but finally folded to Governor Jon Corzine’s political wishes. as a prime example of the law’s failings.

Still, some wonder whether or not activists should be pushing for marriage ahead of the election. Such an issue could further divide the already shaky state. As Corzine press secretary Lilo Stainton says, the issue could be “hijacked by the right wing.”