The 4-3 court decision in New Jersey two weeks ago regarding gay marriage was a big victory for gay rights. When most papers reported the case however, it sounded to many like it was yet another razor-close split between liberals vs. conservatives. But in point of fact, all seven justices ruled that gay relationships and straight relationships deserved equal respect and benefits! The only difference was that four of the seven didn't think it absolutely had to be called "marriage" while the three "dissenters" did. That's huge, people!
Oh, and in other news, the South African government voted 230-41 today to become the fifth nation to legalize gay marriage. They followed the decision of the Constitutional Court which interpreted Chapter 2, Section 9 of the new constitution to require equal marriage rights:
1. Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.
2. Equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms. To promote the achievement of equality, legislative and other measures designed to protect or advance persons, or categories of persons, disadvantaged by unfair discrimination may be taken.
3. The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.
4. No person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds in terms of subsection (3). National legislation must be enacted to prevent or prohibit unfair discrimination.
5. Discrimination on one or more of the grounds listed in subsection (3) is unfair unless it is established that the discrimination is fair.
Like Canada did and (it looks like) the State of Massachusetts will, South Africa's lawmakers chose to ratify the court-endorsed right to same-sex marriage rather than amend their constitution to eliminate it (as the State of Hawaii did). Three cheers for the A.N.C.