same-sex couples win (sort of) in New Jersey

New Jersey’s highest court has ruled today that within 180 days the state legislature must provide same-sex couples with the rights and privileges accorded to heterosexual marriage, stopping short of requiring that it be called marriage, stating explicitly that the legislature could choose to enact civil unions instead. text of the opinion (note: PDF file)

I’m torn about this decision. I think it was a positive step (though I hate the “separate but equal” status embodied by the permissibility of civil unions in lieu of marriage), but I think the timing of it could have disastrous consequences that go well beyond the issue of gay marriage.

So now we can only wait and see if this announcement, so close to the elections, energizes social conservatives and evangelicals sufficiently to annul the Democrats’ opportunity to take control of the House and Senate. I’m betting this will probably tip the vote in Virginia over amending the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage solidly in favor of doing so, and could even take that Senate seat back out of play.

I hope I’m wrong and that everything else over which America is angry and fed-up with the Republicans won’t be outweighed by the native antipathy toward gay folk, but I’m so very nervous now about the elections.

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