New Jersey moves towards gay marriage

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

New Jersey politicians voted this week to give same-sex couples the same rights as married couples regarding inheritance and funeral arrangements and to extend gay couples’ access to health benefits in the public sector.

The two bills were passed overwhelmingly in the state legislature and will now be sent to the state’s Governor, Richard Codey, who is expected to sign both.

New Jersey is one of several U.S. states that already offer same-sex couples some legal rights as partners, though it stops short of allowing gay marriage.

One of the bills passed on Monday sets out same-sex couples’ rights to inheritance and funeral arrangements while the other deals with health benefits for partners of employees of county and municipal governments, school boards and county colleges.

Voters in 13 states have approved constitutional amendments in the past year-and-a-half declaring that seek to ban gay marriages.

Vermont and Connecticut recognise same-sex civil unions while Massachusetts has legalised gay marriage. Britain introduced its form of gay marriage, civil partnerships last December.