The New Jersey State Supreme Court yesterday unanimously decided that homosexuals should have the same rights as heterosexuals in regards to "marriage" except the right to use the legal term "marriage". It gave the State legislature 180 days to enact legislation which would provide for a method where homosexual couples could apply for these legal rights and it left up to the legislature what to call this new union.

As one would expect, the decision had mixed reactions on both sides of the debate.

Some thought the decision did not go far enough, saying that by not specifically stating that the term "marriage" should be used, it continued to promote inequality.

In my opinion, the Court made the proper decision. What is key to this decision being proper is that it is outside of the realm of the Court's responsibility to create law. The Court's purpose is to interpret current laws' scope and meaning, and to remove laws which are considered unconstitutional according to the State's constitution.

The current laws regarding marriage were being used to deny the rights of homosexuals to be afforded the same protections as heterosexuals. The court decided that this was unconstitutional. The proper challenge can not be made until and unless the State legislature creates a new law regarding homosexual marriage or amends current laws regarding marriage to provide equal rights. At that time, if a different term is used to describe the union, then aggrieved parties can petition for intervention by the courts.

Hypothetically, if such a law is created and uses a separate term, it would be proper, again, in my opinion. It is not for the legislature or the courts to determine the meanings of words and it is a slippery slope when they do. A stroll over to dictionary.com returns this:

marriage -noun

1. the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc.
2. the state, condition, or relationship of being married; wedlock: a happy marriage.
3. the legal or religious ceremony that formalizes the decision of a man and woman to live as husband and wife, including the accompanying social festivities: to officiate at a marriage.
4. a relationship in which two people have pledged themselves to each other in the manner of a husband and wife, without legal sanction: trial marriage; homosexual marriage.
5. any close or intimate association or union: the marriage of words and music in a hit song.
6. a formal agreement between two companies or enterprises to combine operations, resources, etc., for mutual benefit; merger.
7. a blending or matching of different elements or components: The new lipstick is a beautiful marriage of fragrance and texture.
8. Cards. a meld of the king and queen of a suit, as in pinochle. Compare royal marriage.
9. a piece of antique furniture assembled from components of two or more authentic pieces.
10. Obsolete. the formal declaration or contract by which act a man and a woman join in wedlock.

marriage. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.0.1). Retrieved October 26, 2006, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/marriage

Those who disagree with the above definition should petition Websters and not the legislature or courts. For the either to get involved with the matter of definitions is improper. If they do, then all sorts of legal challenges could be made to change the scope of words used in legislation to change their scope.

Personally, I don't care whether Websters does make that change although in this day and age, it would probably be proper, but that is for what ever methods Websters uses to determine changes to the dictionary and not for the courts or the legislature.