Ted Olson and NY AG Eric Schneiderman Agree: Civil Unions Suck

Ted Olson the attorney battling Prop H8 and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman got together and wrote a New York Daily News opinion piece stomping the idea of civil unions as a equal to marriage. Yes, some folks feel threatened letting queers use “the M word” for committed partnerships, but Olsen and Schneiderman say that civil unions suck donkey (our words) because no employers, businesses or individuals really know what the hell a “civil union” is anyway.

A civil union reflects a second-class status that fails to protect committed same-sex couples who choose to be married…

In New York, there are more than 1,300 state rights and responsibilities that come with a marriage license. From spousal inheritance rights to the ability to file joint tax returns to child custody rules to the transferring of workers’ compensation benefits, the scope of marriage-related law is expansive. Some are fundamental, others mundane – but all serve to underscore how deeply interwoven New York’s marriage laws are and how extraordinarily they reach into the lives of countless people.

Unlike the universally accepted concept of marriage, employers, businesses and individuals simply do not know how to treat civil unions. Several states have experimented with these so-called compromise solutions and have already reached the conclusion that they just don’t work.

For example, after New Jersey granted civil unions to gay and lesbian couples, many employers refused to offer them partner benefits because they were not legally married. Hospitals denied them the rights of married couples, checking the “single” box – rather than the “married” box – on patients’ admissions forms, thereby denying them access to hospitalized loved ones. Gay and lesbian couples were put at risk in emergencies when they traveled, because civil unions, unlike marriages, are often not recognized across state lines.

All of these legal uncertainties led the New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission to ultimately declare civil unions a failure, finding that the separate categorization “invites and encourages unequal treatment of same-sex couples and their children.”

Many states that have experimented with civil unions have abandoned them and moved to marriage for all couples, citing similar experiences that demonstrate this separate status is not equal. Connecticut and New Hampshire have replaced their civil union statues with marriage for all couples. And legislators in Vermont voted to do the same by a two-thirds, bipartisan majority.

See some states have tried civil unions and decided it’s not for them—it was just an experimental phase. Olsen and Schneiderman’s entire article is a refreshing read, especially since some folks still consider marriage and civil unions equal. Y’know what? Elton John used to as well, but that queen saw the light. May his enlightened flame serve as a beacon to anyone else who still thinks separate means equal.

Via LGBTQ Nation

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