Camel in the Tent

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“What do we want?” “Equality!” “When do we want it?” Now!”

“All we want is to be equal!” “Stop Treating us like second-class citizens!”

Oh…No Wait…Equal Isn’t Enough. Let’s Call it Marriage!

Camel nose-in-the-tent strategy rears it’s head in New Jersey

A New Jersey commission on the legal equality of civil unions in that state has weighed in on the marriage debate. After talking to everyone under the sun and not being able to find a single case where the legal benefits of civil unions differed from the legal benefits of marriage, the New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission has determined that their state should accept gay marriage because civil unions are “too hard to understand”. This is a new tact for same sex advocate groups who have previously stated that all they wanted was to be able to have the same rights as married couples. Now that civil unions are equal under NJ law, the commission says it’s still not good enough. They need to take it to the next level.

The New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission (NJ-CURC) was established by the New Jersey Legislature after the passage of the Civil Union Act in February of 2007. The Civil Union Act gave civil unions statewide, all of the legal benefits that were afforded married couples. The duty of the commission was to study all aspects of the Civil Union Act, which authorized civil unions. The Commission’s duties included evaluating the implementation, operation and effectiveness of the act.

There are two obvious problems with the credibility of this study. First, the commission was universally comprised of same sex marriage advocates who elevated anecdotal evidence over actual testimony, and second, they totally missed the boat on the purpose of their commission. They basically heard a bunch of private citizens and gay activist groups saying “it’s not the same… we want the word marriage”, and responded to that rather than just doing their job which was to make sure that there was no legal discrimination against civil unions.

They were supposed to come back with results like, “this law makes same sex unions and marriage equal under the law” or “same sex unions are unequal in the following areas.” What they did say was same sex unions are too complex for hospitals and others to understand so we should make Civil Unions into Marriages. This conclusion was based on, as far as I can tell, absolutely no firsthand testimony.

State Healthcare Facility Director, John Calabria who is responsible for responding to complaints from citizens of New Jersey about medical institutions testified directly to them that “We have received no complaints” regarding the compliance of medical facilities to the Civil Union Act. Although the agency receives 8000-9000 complaints per year, none of them was about being discriminated against in a medical institution.

New Jersey Director of the Division of Taxation, Maureen Adams was given the leading question, “If the state moved to marriage, how that might affect [the taxation of citizens with civil unions] that you’ve just testified to?” She responded, “There would be no fiscal impact, any filing impact, has all been realized with the Civil Union Law.” AKA you can’t give these people anything to make them more equal.

On the other hand, impassioned testimony from Peggy Sheahan-Knee who is the President of the New Jersey State Bar Association agrees with the commission. She claimed multiple people were discriminated against and denied access to their loved ones in medical institutions. The trouble is that she didn’t provide any specific examples in her testimony. Not only that but her integrity is somewhat in question since she also stated emphatically that, “The Civil Union Law fails to provide equal rights to same-sex couples” but was was unable to provide a single example of this. She provided several examples where the law was misunderstood by the public but none where the law failed to provide equal rights.

So what is the whole conclusion to this befuddled mess? “Since civil unions and marriages are the same, let’s give them the same name to reduce confusion”

Here’s a newsflash for the Commission….reducing confusion was not on the menu, legal rights were. All this time we’ve been hearing ad nauseum about the gay community needing rights, wanting rights, demanding rights. Now they have them and they’re still not happy. Now we have to have the name, marriage, which is what the whole ordeal has been about from the beginning.

It’s not about rights.

The Associated Press release can be found here.

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