TRENTON – Senators introduced bills late last week dealing with a variety of issues, including same-sex marriage recognition, steeplechase horse race wagering, and grandparents being allowed to obtain certified death certificates.
S2925: This bill would recognize same-sex marriages entered into outside New Jersey.
New Jersey has a civil union law, but not same-sex marriage. However, in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling last week regarding the Defense of Marriage Act, same-sex marriage supporters hope they can affect change in New Jersey.
The bill, whose sponsors include Sens. Ray Lesniak, (D-20), Union; Loretta Weinberg, (D-37), Teaneck; and Steve Sweeney, (D-3), West Deptford, references the court’s decision to invalidate part of DOMA, as well as a decision in another case to allow gay marriage to resume in California.
Same-sex marriage essentially is allowed in 13 states and the District of Columbia. It is permitted throughout New England, as well as in New York, Maryland and Delaware. New Jersey and Pennsylvania are the only two Northeast states without it.
According to a 2007 opinion by the N.J. Attorney General, same-sex marriages in other states and countries are to be treated as civil unions in New Jersey.
The bill also would provide that same-sex couples married outside New Jersey may remarry each other in New Jersey.
The governor vetoed a gay marriage bill previously, and at the time, Sweeney was against putting a civil rights question on the ballot, but since then, some lawmakers have supported it and some public opinion polls have shown the ballot option is gaining in popularity.
S2905: This bill would permit wagering on steeplechase horse races.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Kevin O’Toole, (R-40), Wayne, recognizes that while there has been such racing for years in Far Hills, wagering is not allowed.
Under the bill, the N.J. Racing Commission could grant a special permit to hold a steeplechase race at a location other than an official racetrack.
It would have to be in connection with an organization experienced in such races. The commission could grant only one such permit per year, and it would be good for two such racing days per year.
A4116 is the companion Assembly bill.
S2903: This bill would allow grandparents to obtain certified copies of death certificates.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Brian Stack, (D-33), Union, says that right now those authorized to obtain such certificates include parents, legal guardians, spouses, children, and grandchildren.
“These documents can be useful to grandparents in a variety of circumstances, such as when grandparents are the beneficiaries of life insurance policies insuring their grandchildren,” the bill states.