New Jersey lawmakers voted to give same-sex couples the same rights as married couples regarding inheritance and funeral arrangements and to extend gay couples’ access to health benefits in the public sector.
The two bills were passed overwhelmingly in the state legislature on Monday and will now be sent to Gov. Richard Codey, who is expected to sign both.
There’s a little more to consider, though.
One bill would give same-sex couples the same rights as married couples regarding inheritances and funeral arrangements. It passed the Assembly on a 67-6 vote, with five abstentions.
…The other bill would allow municipalities and
other public entities at the local level to extend health benefits to domestic partners.
Unless I’m missing something, neither amendment changes the most fundamental thing about New Jersey’s domestic partnership law as applied in Laurel Hester’s case: that it permits municipalities, etc., to offer benefits to same-sex couples via domestic partnership, but does not require them to. In cities and counties that have enacted domestic partnership statutes this is great news for same sex couples. In Ocean County, or other places where folks like the freeholders are in charge, it doesn’t mean much more than business as usual.
Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great that the amendments passed, but it doesn’t undo the compromise that create the patchwork of protection in the first place and that still leaves families like Laurel Hester and Stacey Andree out in the cold. Maybe the only real option is to vote with your feet, if you have the resources and ability to do so.