Next Up for Marriage Equality: New Jersey

Marriage equality activists in New Jersey realize their window is closing on getting a bill passed and signed into law; incoming Governor Chris Christie opposes equality and says he won’t sign a bill. What’s next?

Here’s Garden State Equality’s statement about the fight they are resuming TODAY. Can you help?

Not wasting a moment after the 2009 election, Garden State Equality has begun to air two television commercials for marriage equality throughout New Jersey. One of the ads, a 60-second ad titled Marsha and Louise, premiered last night – Election Night – and aired eight times during the evening on News 12 New Jersey. The ad will continue to air on News 12. Another ad, a 30-second ad titled Emilia, premieres today on News 12.

The two women in the 60-second ad, Marsha and Louise, are a civil union couple in Middlesex County who look directly into the camera to tell their heart-wrenching story of how New Jersey’s failed civil union law harmed their family.

Marsha and Louise have raised two children with profound special needs: Scott, with Asperger’s, and Aaron, whose severe physical and mental disabilities led to his death.

In the last months of Aaron’s life, Louise and Marsha needed all the health care they could get for their family. But when Louise was looking for jobs, one prospective employer after another told her: We don’t provide civil union benefits as we would to married couples.

Marsha and Louise wound up going into hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. Aaron then died.

“We’ve been together for 20 years,” Louise says in the ad. “We’ve raised four children, and in circumstances where most people would have separated or divorced. I don’t know what a marriage is if it’s not what we have, and I want that legal recognition.”

Marsha and Louise are one of many civil-union couples across New Jersey whose civil unions have not been recognized by employers or hospitals as the equivalent of marriage.

Employers and hospitals say that if the legislature intended for the civil union law to be the same as marriage, the legislature would have used the same name.

Because these employers and hospitals don’t recognize civil unions as they would marriage, many same-sex couples go without adequate health insurance – a horror in this economy. And because of the real-world disparity between civil unions and marriage, some hospitals do not allow civil union partners to make medical decisions for one another, or even to visit one another in the emergency room.

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