New York Passes Marriage Equality

New York Passes Marriage Equality Act as New Jersey Stands in the Shadows

New York State Senate passed the Marriage Equality Act, legalizing same-sex marriage across the state. It was signed immediately by Governor Andrew Cuomo on June 24, 2011.

One month after the law became legal, hundreds of young and old lesbian and gay couples, along with friends and family members, lined the streets of New York City to finally be wed.

“The state vote in New York to legalize gay marriage is an exciting move forward toward equal rights for lesbian and gay Americans,” said Dr. Nancy Mezey, Associate Professor and Sociology Program Director at Monmouth University.

New York joins five fellow American states, and the Washington DC area, in legalizing same-sex marriage. Handful of countries like Canada, Argentina and Spain also recognize same-sex marriage.

Dr. Mezey, also a Director for the Institute for Global Understanding, commented, “The Republicans who broke rank and voted for gay marriage in New York showed a lot of courage and conviction…I think we will see more Republicans voting for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights as Americans in younger generations go to the polls.”

One Republican State Senator, Mark Grisanti, said on the State Senate floor that he could not “deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, the people of my district and across this state, the state of New York, and those people who make this the great state that it is the same rights that I have with my wife.”

On January 12, 2004, New Jersey enacted the Domestic Partnership Act, offering partnership between same-sex couples and elderly couples with some of the same rights as a married couple. There was limited coverage offered with healthcare and property rights.

The New Jersey Civil Union Act was created to allow same-sex couples have most of the same rights as any other married couple, such as receiving coverage and benefits through insurance companies and their employers. The act took effect on February 19, 2007.

New Jersey does not recognize same-sex marriage, but instead a civil union or registered partnership between same-sex couples. This is the same measure followed by other states like Nevada, Maine, and Hawaii.

Britney Dupuis, a resident of Freehold and a University senior, believes all the rights of marriage should be available to everybody.

“I don’t care what the word is, as long as they’re given the privilege,” said Dupuis, Sales Director at WMCX. “If you have a civil union, a government document, that solidifies [a] marriage, then that’s what really matters.”

However, there have been many complaints of the law not being instituted properly.

At least 102 couples filed complaints to Garden State Equality, a LGBT civil rights organization, within 90 days of the law being instituted. As New Jersey does recognize same-sex civil unions as having a spouse, a ploy used by employers and insurers to deny benefits.

The state has tried multiple times to pass a marriage equality act. Former Governor Jon Corzine was adamant in signing the act into law if given the chance before his successor, Governor Chris Christie took office.

Christie has been a vocal opponent of a same-sex marriage act, promising to veto any act.

After the heavily covered Marriage Equality Act in New York, handful of New Jersey politicians voiced their support for a similar law, like United States Senator Frank Lautenberg.

There was even some expressing regret in not passing a law when given the chance, such as Republican State Senator Jennifer Beck.

State Senate President Stephen Sweeney said, “I made a decision purely based on political calculation to not vote for marriage equality. I failed in my responsibility as majority leader to actually lead. I was wrong.”

“It is really hard to predict the future,” said Dr. Mezey. “New Jersey will eventually allow lesbians and gay men to marry, instead of sticking to the separate and unequal system that they have currently created through civil unions. I think this is true for the United States as a whole.”