Reuters reports on a decision I can live with:
RENTON, New Jersey (Reuters) - Saying that times have changed, New Jersey's highest court on Wednesday guaranteed gay couples the same rights as married heterosexual couples but left it to state lawmakers to define how the state wants to define marriage.
"Times and attitudes have changed," the New Jersey State Supreme Court said in a nuanced 90-page ruling that was neither a clear victory nor a defeat for gay marriage, which is currently legal in the United States only in Massachusetts.
"Despite the rich diversity of this State, the tolerance and goodness of its people, and the many recent advances made by gays and lesbians toward achieving social acceptance and equality under the law, the Court cannot find that the right to same-sex marriage is a fundamental right under our constitution," the ruling continued.
But saying that gay couples must have the same rights as other couples, the court said gay advocates must now "appeal to their fellow citizens whose voices are heard through their popularly elected representatives."
With that in mind, the court gave the legislature six months to either amend the state's marriage statutes to include gay people, or write a new law in which same-sex couples "would enjoy the rights of civil marriage."
As you might presume, I am against gay marriage, in the same way I am against human rights for animals. Misinterpret what as you may but they are apples and oranges. The very declaration of being gay is OK, but don't call it marriage. So I think this decision, from the way it is reported here, is exactly the proper ruling for a court. Defend civil liberties, but leave it to the people to determine the social acceptability of the declaration. Once again, I have no problem with the state acknowledging and defending civil unions, and I think the precedent for matters such as medical benefits, etc is well established in the law. But don't call it marriage.
I hope that the people of NJ recognize the importance of recognizing the difference between the civil and statutory definitions of civil union and the social convention of marriage and that they uphold the status quo with regard to the current definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. It is the people's right to decide, as I've said before we all have a say in these matters. By not being activist and establishing gay marriage by legal fiat, the NJ judiciary did the right thing, and they should be commended.
Key Language: (emphasis mine)
Denying committed same-sex couples the financial and social benefits and privileges given to their married heterosexual counterparts bears no substantial relationship to a legitimate governmental purpose. The Court holds that under the equal protection guarantee of Article I, Paragraph 1 of the New Jersey Constitution, committed samesex couples must be afforded on equal terms the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples under the civil marriage statutes. The name to be given to the statutory scheme that provides full rights and benefits to same sex couples, whether marriage or some other term, is a matter left to the democratic process.
That's the right choice.