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NJSBA Testifies on Civil Unions at Public Hearing of the New Jersey Civil Unions Review Commission
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ-NJ State Bar Association President Lynn Fontaine Newsome testified last night regarding the State Bar’s opposition to the New Jersey Civil Union Act, saying, “The NJ State Bar Association calls upon the NJ State Legislature to enact marriage equality legislation.
“The NJSBA believes the civil unions law created a convoluted, burdensome and flawed statutory scheme that fails to create for same-sex couples the rights and remedies that are equal to those provided to heterosexual married couples as required by the NJ Supreme Court in its landmark October 25, 2006 Lewis v. Harris decision.”
The New Jersey Civil Unions Review Commission (CURC) held the first in a series of three public hearings on Sept. 26 regarding the implementation and effectiveness of the New Jersey Civil Union Act. This first public hearing was held at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick.
In her remarks, Ms. Newsome outlined the association’s position on S2407/A3787, a bill that established civil unions in New Jersey, and A3685, legislation that would have enacted the “Civil Marriage and Religious Protection Act.”
“The NJ State Bar Association’s Board of Trustees voted to oppose S2407, the bill to establish civil unions, and we maintain our opposition to this day,” Ms. Newsome testified. “We feel that the civil union law violates the New Jersey Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection and we remain unconvinced that this law satisfies the Supreme Court’s determination that ‘the unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated.’ "
Ms. Newsome noted that the NJSBA questioned the prudence of rushing to pass a civil union law in only two weeks when the NJ Supreme Court imposed a 180-day deadline. She also testified that NJSBA members report on the countless additional hours of work involved with representing gay and lesbian clients and their families because of the inequity of the civil unions law and how it has affected the practice of family law, estate planning, real estate and other areas.
In addition to President Newsome, NJSBA Trustee Thomas H. Prol and Leslie Farber, chair of the NJSBA Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Rights Section, testified at the hearing.
The Civil Union Act took effect Feb.19, 2007 and the New Jersey Civil Unions Review Commission is holding hearings for interested parties to present their concerns regarding New Jersey’s civil union law. This first hearing was held at the New Jersey Law Center in New Brunswick.
The New Jersey State Bar Association, incorporated in 1899, is dedicated to the continuing education of lawyers and the public, to reforming and improving the legal system and to aiding in the administration of justice. Visit the association’s website at www.njsba.com.
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