UNION COUNTY – In an official resolution adopted yesterday, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders called upon New Jersey state representatives to override a veto and pass the Marriage Equality Bill. The resolution also calls upon the 20 other counties in New Jersey to join with Union County in supporting the override.
“As the site of pivotal events in the Revolutionary War, New Jersey has played a historic role in the fight for equal rights under the law,” said Freeholder Chairman Linda Carter. “Union County is proud to carry on this great tradition by working to ensure that the uniquely important social contract of marriage is equally available to all men and women.”
The resolution urges the New Jersey Senate and Assembly to override the veto of bill A-1, the Marriage Equality Bill. The bill passed with bipartisan support in February 2012 but was vetoed by Governor Chris Christie shortly after.
The Marriage Equality Bill defines marriage as “the legally recognized union of two consenting persons in a committed relationship.”
“Our Founding Fathers declared that ‘all men are created equal,’ but it is up to each generation to ensure that this declaration of principle is reflected in the law of the land,” said New Jersey State Senator Ray Lesniak (D-Union County). “The Marriage Equality Bill is consistent with the recent Supreme Court ruling, and it should become law in New Jersey.”
Earlier this summer the U.S. Supreme Court found key provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional. That law defined a marriage as only between a man and a woman.
“Especially when you consider the many New Jersey residents from all walks of life who go the extra mile to serve our nation and our communities, both as professionals and volunteers, it is high time to ensure that all who choose to adopt the responsibilities of marriage be accorded equal recognition under the law,” said Union County Freeholder Alexander Mirabella, who is the Freeholder Board’s liaison to the Union County Veterans Affairs Committee.
Currently, about a dozen other states and the District of Columbia have marriage equality laws. Now that parts of DOMA have been struck down, all married couples in these states have equal access to federal benefits.
Complete text of the resolution (#597, July 25, 2013):
WHEREAS, in February of 2012, both the New Jersey State Assembly and the New Jersey State Senate voted in a bipartisan effort to pass a Marriage Equality Bill (A-1). Under the bill, marriage is defined as “the legally recognized union of two consenting persons in a committed relationship.” Under the bill, same-sex civil unions would no longer be permitted; and
WHEREAS, on the very next day the bill was passed, Governor Chris Christie vetoed the legislation, reaffirming his view that voters should decide whether to change the definition of marriage in New Jersey. The Legislature has until January 2014 to round up enough votes to over-ride the Governor’s veto; and
WHEREAS, on June 26, 2013, the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, struck down a key part of a law that denies to legally married same-sex couples the same federal benefits provided to heterosexual spouses. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) defines marriage as only between a man and a woman. But the Supreme Court ruled DOMA violates equal protection guarantees in the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause as applied to same-sex couples legally married under the laws of their states; and
WHEREAS, since December 2005, the County of Union has supported and adopted the policies set forth in the Domestic Partnership Act, Chapter 246, P.L 2003 and has recognized the same-sex domestic partners of employees, as defined by the Act, and has deemed them eligible for the same dependent benefits as are provided to a spouse under the State-administered pension funds. All spouse and family health benefits including major medical, dental and insurance available to a spouse or family of a Union County employee or retiree are also available under similar co-pays, premiums, or deductibles to the same sex domestic partner of a County employee or retiree.
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Chosen Freeholders of the County of Union urges the New Jersey General Assembly and the State Senate to vote to over-ride Governor Chris Christie’s veto of the Marriage Equality Bill, and afford the same rights and privileges to same-sex couples that are given to other marriage couples under the law; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this Resolution be forwarded to each County in the State of New Jersey, requesting that they join with Union County in urging swift action in the Legislature on this important issue.
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