Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Next Step

New Jersey lawmakers pass two gay rights bills

This needs to happen in Illinois.

Last year the state passed a non-discrimination law, which took effect last week, making it a crime to discriminate against gays and lesbians in employment, housing, and other areas. That's great--but it's not enough.

New Jersey's two new laws, assuming Governor Codey signs them, will bring the inheritance rights of New Jersey's same-sex couples in line with those of married couples and ensure that, if they work for any level of government, they will have the opportunity to share health insurance with their partners.

The first change is of vital importance. Nothing is more tragic than losing the one person in your life with whom you share a home and an existence. To compound that loss by making the inheritance process difficult and expensive is cruel. Yet when one half of a gay couple dies, the other half can expect to have his or her claim to their home challenged, and if the claim is upheld, to pay inheritance taxes on property that the couple shared.

I don't expect Illinois to recognize civil unions or same-sex marriages in the next ten years. But reform like this? I think we can, and should, manage to win these basic protections.

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