Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex) also appeared before the committee and agreed with Oliver that the civil union law does not offer same-sex couples equal protections.
“We’ve repeatedly heard heartbreaking stories of couples in committed relationships running into problems when it comes to hospital care and other considerations given to heterosexual couples,” Wisniewski said. “We cannot single out a group of people and deem them undeserving of the same legal and economic protections others enjoy.”
Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), a co-sponsor of the legislation, said, “One year ago, Governor Christie signed the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, one of the toughest anti-bullying laws in the country. I certainly remember the articulate and brave young men and women who shared their horrific experiences with the Legislature. Many of those students were targeted because of their sexual orientation. It became clear that while bullying affects all students, those who identify as gay or are perceived to be gay are disproportionately impacted by peer harassment and intimidation.
“The purpose of the anti-bullying law is to respond to bullying and also to prevent it,” Vainieri Huttle said. “That can only be done by teaching students that although they are not all the same, they are all equal and will be treated equally in our state.
“Unfortunately, that is not true,” the Assemblywoman said. “LGBT students, as well as their peers, know that when it is time to get married in our state, they will not be treated equally. They will not be treated fairly. New Jersey schools are tasked with teaching students that discrimination against their fellow classmates is wrong and punishable. It is undoubtedly more difficult to impress the values of fairness and equality upon our children when our state does not allow same sex couples to marry.”