Holt Statement On New Jersey Supreme Court Ruling On Same-Sex Marriage

Date: Oct. 25, 2006
Location: Washington, DC


Washington, D.C. -- Rep. Rush Holt (NJ-12) today issued the following statement in response to the New Jersey Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage:

"Our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution in an attempt to form a more perfect union and establish justice for all. Yet, there is little that is perfect or just for same sex-couples who wish to make life commitments to each other. As a society, we need to realize that discrimination against homosexuals is the next front in our struggle for civil rights for all.

"Today, choosing to be in a committed, monogamous, same-sex relationship results in discriminatory treatment. For example, if one's partner is injured and in the hospital, a same-sex partner lacks legal visitation rights. Same-sex couples are prohibited from receiving group insurance given to state employees and are denied survivors benefits when their partners pass away. They are also excluded from the legal protections relating to title, state and municipal tax laws, wrongful death, emotional distress, and other torts or actions under contracts related to spousal status. If long-term, committed relationships are good for society, and I believe that they are, then it makes no sense to penalize some people for entering into them.

"Recognizing lawful civil marriages in New Jersey simply means that same-sex couples will be treated equally and have access to the same bundle of legal rights that heterosexual couples receive. At various times in our nation's past, we have acted to expand equal treatment to different groups of people. Each time, our nation has been made stronger. Each time, the country was forced to measure our practices against our principles. Each time, we have had to take serious looks at ourselves and come to grips with some unpleasant truths about our ignorance and prejudices. Each time, we have required the firm hand of the courts to direct us.

"Importantly, equal treatment under the law leaves the religious aspect of marriage untouched, as it should. The U.S. and New Jersey Constitutions require the government to respect the separation of church and state, and this decision does so.

"Some argue that same sex marriage will damage the institution of marriage. I disagree.

"As history has shown repeatedly, institutions are strengthened when they treat all people equally. The U.S. military is not weaker because it accepts African Americans - though some said it would be. American colleges and universities are not weaker because they accept women - though some said they would be. Both of these institutions are stronger because they grant equal rights and privileges.

"Life commitments that are monogamous and mutually supportive have social, economic, and personal benefits. Allowing all people to enter into them strengthens the institution of marriage, it does not weaken it. Recognizing the legal rights associated with marriage regardless of the sexual orientation of the partners will not diminish in any way the number of people who enter into marriage, nor the satisfaction that those of us who are married find in our relationships. If heterosexual marriage is not as strong an institution as we might want or as we might imagine it once was, we should look within ourselves. No marriage between a woman and a man is made weaker because two women or two men are living together somewhere in New Jersey as a married couple."