TRENTON – A lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Superior Court seeking marriage equality for same-sex couples in New Jersey, claiming that the state’s civil union laws have fallen short of the benefits that married couples enjoy.
The lawsuit was filed by Lambda Legal and Garden state Equality, whose CEO, Steve Goldstein, said at a press conference that the “civil union wall is dividing the moral fabric of our state.”
Echoing, of all people, former President Ronald Reagan, Goldstein said, “New Jersey, tear down that wall.”
Supporters of same-sex marriage in New Jersey were inspired by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signing of a marriage equality law in that state. They want the Garden State to follow suit.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Goldstein was joined by several same-sex couples claiming difficulties with such professionals as doctors and dentists getting them to recognize they qualify for benefits under the civil unions law that was passed by the Legislature in December 2006.
The couples shared stories of how they were given runarounds, if not rejections.
John Grant, 46, suffered a skull fracture when he was stuck by a car. However, when his partner tried explaining the civil union benefits they qualify for, they had difficulty receiving the proper amount of attention.
“Immediately, they questioned me about my relationship,” he said. “At the moment we needed civil union laws the most, they failed on us miserably.”
Another person, Karen McFadden, 47, was actually told that insurance companies only recognize married couples to qualify for certain benefits, and not civil unions.
Upon that experience, McFadden came to a conclusion.
“The logical conclusion is we’re not good enough.”
She said the community is going to continue its fight for marriage equality, since civil unions fall far short of doing so.
“We’re tired of being treated like second-class citizens,” she said.
Gov. Chris Christie is against same-sex marriage, claiming marriage is between one man and one woman.