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Bill To Expand Domestic Partner Rights Approved By Senate

TRENTON – Domestic partners would have the same rights as married couples with respect to inheritances and funeral arrangements under a bill sponsored by Senators John H. Adler and Nia H. Gill that was approved by the Senate today.

“The citizens of the State of New Jersey realize that there are many ways to form a family,” said Senator Adler, D-Cherry Hill and the sponsor of the original bill to create domestic partnerships. “Currently, same-sex couples have no rights when it comes to administering the funeral of a passed partner. It makes little sense to grant this right only to married couples and deny it of domestic partnerships.”

The Adler-Gill measure, S-2083, extends to the surviving member of a domestic partnership certain rights upon the death of his or her partner. The bill would amend current law to grant a domestic partner the same funeral rights as a spouse in case the decedent has no will.

The bill would also amend the State’s intestacy laws to ensure that a surviving domestic partner receives an inheritance from his or her decent partner’s estate. The rights enumerated in the bill would be commensurate with spousal intestacy rights.

“New Jersey’s domestic partnership law is a good start when it comes to providing same-sex couples with the basic rights enjoyed by married couples, but there are still over 1,000 rights that are not covered by domestic partnerships,” said Senator Gill, D-Essex and Passaic. “This measure is just another step in bridging that gap and striving for greater equality for same-sex couples. It is my hope that New Jersey will continue to serve as a role model for other state and local governments when it comes to granting rights to domestic partners.”

The bill was approved by the Senate by a vote of 39-0. It has also been approved by the Assembly Regulated Professions and Independent Authorities Committee and awaits a vote by the full Assembly.

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