Friday, December 15, 2006

I love New Jersey

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I do. Seriously. Both for personal reasons -- I lived in Mendham for a few years and graduated from West Morris Mendham H.S. -- and for political reasons. What political reasons, you ask? Consider:

A) Same-sex marriage:

A bill to allow gay couples to form civil unions with all the rights and responsibilities of married couples won final approval in the Legislature this afternoon. Gov. Jon Corzine has indicated he will sign it into law, which would make New Jersey the third state in the nation to give same-sex couples the right to form civil unions.

The bill passed the Assembly 56-19, and the Senate on a vote of 23-12.

It is lawmakers' response to a state Supreme Court ruling in October. Citing the New Jersey constitution's guarantee of equal treatment, the court said the Legislature must provide a way for same-sex couples to obtain the same benefits as married heterosexual couples, whether or not it is called "marriage."

B) Stem-cell research:

After nearly two years of often heated debate and backroom negotiations, the Legislature today approved a bill that will provide $270 million to build and equip five stem cell and biomedical research facilities in New Jersey. The legislation now goes to Gov. Jon Corzine, who said he is excited to receive the bill and plans to sign it.

“I think we have a very, very good initiative to make a platform for New Jersey to be a leader,” Corzine said. "We will have created a critical mass of research facilities to be the lead in this field.”

The bill was approved 53-24 with 3 abstentions in the Assembly and 25-9 with 6 abstentions in the Senate.

There you go. What a state.

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