In a powerful show of support for equality, the entire Democratic membership of the New Jersey Congressional delegation — both U.S. Senators and all seven Democratic U.S. House members — have submitted to following letter in which they endorse marriage equality and ask Democratic members of the New Jersey state legislature to vote for the marriage equality bill.

Congress of the United States
Washignton, DC 20510

January 6, 2012

Dear Democratic Colleagues in the New Jersey Senate and Assembly:

We, the entire Democratic membership of the New Jersey Congressional delegation, urge you to support the marriage equality bill being introduced by the Democratic leadership in the state Senate and Assembly, along with many sponsors.

New Jersey has a proud history of civil rights leadership, and we must continue our role in pursuing fairness and equality. Other states with a combined population of more than 35 million people already have marriage equality – including our next door neighbor, New York.

Although New Jersey has a civil union law, ample testimony before the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee two years ago demonstrated that the civil union law has not successfully provided equality to same-sec couples in New Jersey. Couples testified that hospitals still refuse visitation and medical-decision rights because they do not consider civil unions to be equal to marriage. Similarly, couples demonstrated that employers continue to refuse to grant equal benefits to civil union partners.

As more states recognize marriage equality, civil unions threaten to become an even less respected and understood alternative to marriage. The 2008 New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission concluded there was “overwhelming evidence that civil unions will not be recognized by the general public as the equivalent of marriage in New Jersey with the passage of time.”

It is important to note that New Jersey enacted the strongest possible civil union law in 2006. Therefore, it is not feasible to “fix” the law short of providing marriage equality. The time has come to end discrimination in marriage. The marriage equality bill in the New Jersey legislature needs your support.

Sincerely,

Frank R. Laurenberg, United States Senator
Robert Menendez, United States Senator
Rush Holt, Member of Congress
Robert Andrews, Member of Congress
Albio Sires, Member of Congress
Steven Rothman, Member of Congress
Bill Pascrell, Member of Congress
Frank Pallone, Jr., Member of Congress
Donals Payne, Member of Congress