Gerald Cardinale

N.J. legislature gets unwelcome gay-union issue

New York -- Three years ago, when Assemblywoman Loretta Weinberg decided to sponsor a domestic partnership law for gay and lesbian couples in New Jersey, the big surprise was how little fuss it caused.

There were no picketers outside the legislature, no furious attacks by the opposition. When the bill was passed, she said, "I looked back, and I maybe had one nasty e-mail in the entire two years we worked on that."

In this quiet way, the state has gradually become known as a haven for gays and lesbians seeking legal protection. By tradition, New Jersey's lawmakers have tended to bypass national ideological battles, reserving their energy for such issues as property...