A bill introduced in the Senate on June 9 (S1967) and Assembly on June 16 (A2978), the “Freedom of Religion and Equality in Civil Marriage Act,” would authorize same-sex marriage in New Jersey and simultaneously would allow clergy to refuse to solemnize same-sex marriages. The bill would render partners to a civil union to be deemed “married” and their civil union licenses and certificates would be deemed to be marriage licenses and certificates. While this bill would not substantively change the rights already afforded same-sex couples under the Civil Union Law, if passed, employers would need to change policy manuals and handbooks so that the terminology matches the law. This would include referring to married same-sex couples as “spouses” rather than “civil union partners” and otherwise ensuring that policies relating to married workers included both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
Note: This article was published in the July 2008 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.