A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Separate but Equal Through the Sanctification of State Law

I thought the unfairness of Plessy v Ferguson (1896) and its tenet of separate but equal had been overturned fifty plus years ago. Yet in New Jersey, despite a few small steps towards change in this decade, a gay or lesbian couple continues to enjoy a lesser set of protections under the law than a straight couple. It is time that we face the fact that marriage is perceived as a religious sacrament and therefore has no place in federal, state, and local laws and public policy.

Here's how equal treatment could work and the deeply religious could continue to exercise their particular beliefs: A gay or lesbian couple unable to be married in a religious institution due to doctrinal considerations would celebrate a secular civil union at the Justice of the Peace or some other establishment. Religious institutions would continue to perform traditional weddings as they saw fit. Churches, synogogues, and other religious establishments would continue to issue the traditional marriage certificate in celebration of the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. But the associated secular marriage license required by municipal or county governments would be renamed a civil union license and all previously issued marriage licenses would be thenceforth recognized as civil union licenses. Finally, all laws and public policies would be amended to read civil union wherever marriage was referenced.

It's time for equal treatment under the law. Marriage should revert to the religious rite that it is. And everyone should be sold the bill of goods that gays and lesbians are being offered - civil union.


  1. This is probably the best idea I've heard.

  2. How would you deal with adoption? All other things being equal, should a homosexual couple be granted the same consideration as a heterosexual couple?

  3. NJ is one of only four states that permit gay adoptions. The rest of the states require "marriage", which would be removed as an obstacle if equal protection was enforced in the law and public policy.