Why Not “Civil Unions”?

As the debate over same-sex “marriage” heats up in New York, you occasionally hear legislators say that they oppose same-sex “marriage” but are in favor of “civil unions”.  This is an effort to appear reasonable, and open to compromise, which is certainly laudable.  The problem us, the term “civil unions” doesn’t mean what they think it means.

When most people use the term “civil unions”, they mean some kind of legal arrangement that grants rights to same-sex couples, like hospital visitation, inheritance rights, insurance eligibility, etc., without putting that relationship on the same legal plane as marriage.

The problem is, that’s not what the term “civil unions” actually means.  It means the same thing as same-sex “marriage”.

Bills that recognize “civil unions” grant them all the same rights and privileges of marriage.  The “civil unions” bill that was passed in New Jersey, for example, specifically states that any provision of law that deals with marriage, spouses, etc., must be read to include “civil unions” and those who enter into them.  The “civil unions” bill introduced in Rhode Island today does exactly the same thing. The legal difference between “marriage” and “civil unions” is absolutely nothing — it’s just the name.

So, all the statutes that prohibit discrimination based on “marital status” would have to be read to prohibit discrimination against those in “civil unions”.  In fact, the case that led to the New Jersey Methodist organization being stripped of its tax exempt status wasn’t based on their refusal to recognize a “marriage”, but their refusal to recognize a “civil union” — which the courts treated as the same thing as a marriage.

It’s also well known that same-sex “marriage” advocates have used “civil unions” laws as a step towards the judicial imposition of same-sex “marriage” .  The argument they make is that granting the rights of marriage, but denying the term “marriage”, is invidious discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause (or its state equivalent).  That was precisely the approach that was successfully used in Connecticut to impose same-sex “marriage” by judicial fiat.  That same argument is being made in court in New Jersey.

The reality also is that “civil unions” are not on the table in the New York State Legislature.  To my knowledge, a “civil unions” bill has never been introduced in the Legislature, and nobody has said that they are interested in doing so.  Indeed, same-sex “marriage” advocates frequently say that they don’t want “civil unions”.

The choice in the Legislature is not “civil unions” versus same-sex “marriage”.  It’s all about re-defining marriage.

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2 Responses to “Why Not “Civil Unions”?”

  1. Mary says:

    Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz is holding a rally in defense of marriage on Sunday May 17 at 149th Street and Third Avenue (Bronx) at 12 noon. There will be a procession from there to the Bronx County Courthouse.

    The only way we are going to win this one is through the strong public witness of evangelicals, minority ministers, men of faith, and simple people (preferably uneducated) who have it written in their gut that marriage is between a man and a woman and no amount of public relations, money, power or political voodoo can tell them any different.

  2. Dear Senator Larkin,
    I know you have been opposed to the same sex marriage legislation. I want to encourage you to oppose this legislation. I believe this is a direct attack against the Jewish, Christian and Muslim concept of Marriage. Those who brought this issue forward need to rethink just what their objectives are. As a Catholic I can tell you right now that the Catholic Church is not about to modify or change it’s moral teachings to accommodate the homosexual life style. If the issue is about property rights and inheritance issues thats one thing, however I believe current New York State law adequately addresses that question. The fact that this has become a contentious issue makes me question whether this isn’t just another attempt to use the legislative process to force religious communities and organizations to modify their moral teachings, which have existed for thousands of years, long before New York State existed. It is disheartening to know that Governor Coumo supports such legislation and by signing such a bill in to law he loses his moral authority and moral legitimacy to represent and further serve the people of New York State. Please feel free to share this with governor. I have attached the documentation which proves that the governor will relinquish his moral authority and moral legitimacy if he moves forward and signs this bill. Under the natural law which governs and preempts State Law,it is not required for one to be Catholic for this to apply. (See below) Again thank you for voting against this legislation.

    Sincerely yours,
    Michael O’Donnell

    Answer: Read the following Catholic Church teaching: COMPENDIUM FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE: paragraphs 229 and 398

    CHAPTER FIVE: THE FAMILY, THE VITAL CELL OF SOCIETY

    III. THE SOCIAL SUBJECTIVITY OF THE FAMILY

    a. Love and the formation of a community of persons

    229. The solidity of the family nucleus is a decisive resource for the quality of life in society, therefore the civil community cannot remain indifferent to the destabilizing tendencies that threaten its foundations at their very roots. Although legislation may sometimes tolerate morally unacceptable behaviour, it must never weaken the recognition of indissoluble monogamous marriage as the only authentic form of the family. It is therefore necessary that the public authorities “resist these tendencies which divide society and are harmful to the dignity, security and welfare of the citizens as individuals, and they must try to ensure that public opinion is not led to undervalue the institutional importance of marriage and the family”.

    CHAPTER EIGHT: THE POLITICAL COMMUNITY

    III. POLITICAL AUTHORITY

    b. Authority as moral force

    398. Authority must enact just laws, that is, laws that correspond to the dignity of the human person and to what is required by right reason. “Human law is law insofar as it corresponds to right reason and therefore is derived from the eternal law. When, however, a law is contrary to reason, it is called an unjust law; in such a case it ceases to be law and becomes instead an act of violence”. Authority that governs according to reason places citizens in a relationship not so much of subjection to another person as of obedience to the moral order and, therefore, to God himself who is its ultimate source.[817] Whoever refuses to obey an authority that is acting in accordance with the moral order “resists what God has appointed” (Rom 13:2).[818] Analogously, whenever public authority -which has its foundation in human nature and belongs to the order pre-ordained by God – fails to seek the common good, it abandons its proper purpose and so delegitimizes itself.