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Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2006, 08:48 GMT
New Jersey vote backs gay unions
Supporters wave from the gallery as the civil unions bill is debated in the New Jersey Assembly
Supporters of same-sex civil unions were pleased by the decision
Lawmakers in New Jersey have voted to legalise same-sex civil unions, giving gay and lesbian couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Under the ruling, gay couples would gain benefits like adoption rights and inheritance rights.

The bill, which passed comfortably in both houses, does not allow for the unions to be called marriages, however.

The governor of the US state, Democrat Jon Corzine, said he would sign the bill into law.

Sixty days after he does this, officials can begin granting the civil unions.

The bill came in response to the state's Supreme Court ruling in October that gay couples were entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples.

I'm glad for the progress but not very satisfied
Stephen Goldstein

Gay rights activists said they were pleased with the progress but would continue to push for same sex unions to be recognised as marriage.

"I'm glad for the progress but not very satisfied," said Stephen Goldstein of gay rights group Garden State Equality.


Currently, only Massachusetts allows same-sex marriages but several other states have civil union or domestic partnership laws.

The New Jersey Supreme Court case was brought by seven gay couples, who claimed that the state's constitution entitled them to marry.

The court ruled in October that they were entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples and gave lawmakers six months to review the law.

But the court said it could not "find that the right to same-sex marriage is a fundamental right under our constitution".

In July, the top court in Washington state upheld a gay marriage ban.

That decision followed a string of setbacks for same-sex marriage advocates in other parts of the US, including in several states where votes were held on amending bans on same-sex unions.

Map: Gay marriage across the US
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07 Jun 06 |  Americas


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