In October, gay marriage was legalized in New Jersey through Supreme Court Judge Mary Jacobson, who ruled “the ineligibility of same-sex couples for federal benefits is currently harming same-sex couples in New Jersey in a wide range of contexts. ” Just recently, the state Senate has decided to make an effort to turn the court decision into law, introducing the Marriage Equality Act (S3109) earlier this month. However, the Assembly is not on board with the decision to move forward with the bill. In order for the bill to be sent to Republican Gov. Chris Christie, both the Senate and the Assembly would have to approve it. Christie made every effort to halt the progression of marriage equality for the state, vetoing the Marriage Equality and Religious Exemption Act in 2012 and requesting an appeal for the judge’s ruling this year. Many gay-rights advocates are arguing against making the court decision state law, as they are afforded more rights now than they would be with the bill.
The most important aspect for New Jersey citizens, as with all other states that have legalized gay marriage, is the promise of benefits. It has more to do with these couples’ lack of access to the rights and necessary securities that come with marriage than anything else. People who are often against marriage equality can only see the “traditional” institution of marriage being torn apart. But when people cling to this idea as their foundation, most arguments are not very good.
The first hit? “Marriage is a holy sacrament between man and woman.” Well, gay marriage is not an issue of morality, but one of politics and legality, more specifically the allocation of rights and privileges. Since this is a democratic country and no one can be granted or denied rights based on religious beliefs, a legal definition of marriage cannot be based on a religion. Another fan favorite is “marriage is essential for the purpose of procreation.” Then in theory, there are many cases of heterosexual couples who do not meet these qualifications either: post-menopausal women, sterile couples or those who have decided not to reproduce. According to this definition, they should be stripped of their right to marry.
Any devaluation of gay marriage is rooted in prejudice from closed-minded individuals. It’s mind over matter; those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. Every person should have the right to marry and receive the benefits that come with it. It is the right of every first-class American citizen, and that’s exactly who we are.
— Ashley Lucas-vera