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.
Tags: Same-Sex "Marriage"