Civil Unions: The Other Legal Protection

Say what you will about civil unions versus full marriage equality; if the proposed ban passes, Wisconsin will permanently be banned from providing either to its gay and lesbian citizens.

Civil unions—currently offered only in Vermont and Connecticut—provide the very same rights, responsibilities, and benefits as marriage in that state. So for example, couples who have had a civil union in Vermont can file their state taxes together, but they have to separately file federally. And a civil union performed in Vermont will not be recognized by any other state.

In Wisconsin, if civil unions were legalized, gay and lesbian couples could enjoy the nearly 200 rights, responsibilities, and benefits offered by marriage in Wisconsin.

In “For Civil Unions” author Paul Varnell thinks we should temporarily abandon the quest for marriage equality altogether:
… it is time to adjust our strategy and focus our efforts on trying to obtain the decidedly less scary civil unions. Less scary? Apparently so. With no public outcry the Connecticut legislature approved gay civil unions substantially equal to marriage. And President Bush, even while playing to the religious right, said during the 2004 campaign that if states wanted to establish civil unions that was fine.
He goes on to challenge three claims marriage equality advocates use against civil unions including the "back of the bus" argument. Says Varnell, "Currently gays have nothing. Are civil unions better than nothing? Emphatically, yes."

Read the full article here.



At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While Mr. Varnell makes a well reasoned case for civil unions now with marriage to come at some later date, he falls to address the most obvious argument gay rights advocates will face at that later date: "why do you need marriage when we already gave you civil unions?"

At 3:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree with you anonymous. if we don't talk about the word marriage, how do we expect to progress. there may not have been as much public "outcry" in CT, but how do we expect that to change without making a direct hit on the problem. this is what is happening in CT in the courts right now - GLAD is having a tougher time making their case from a legal standpoint. in my opinion, you've got to ask for what you want (marriage) to even get something less (civil unions).

At 5:04 PM, Blogger Tom in Rhinelander said...

Interesting article. However we need to concentrate on defeating the amendment before us now. Obviously we need straight people to vote against it. Discussing civil unions vs marriage does not get us a vote in the no column. Hopefully anyone who would argue on either side of this issue is already voting no. We need to focus on people who oppose marriage and are uncomfortable with civil unions. One way is emphasize the impacts to families who already have corporate and local government benefits. Should they loose those benefits like what is happening in Michigan? Another way is to be out and open in our churches and work places. Put a name and face to the injustice. BTW I would take civil union benefits in a flash – even though it’s not full equality. I’d like to be on the bus.

At 6:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with Tom and Varnell on this one. Yes, there are 200 rights and responsibilities that come with marriage. And yes, our families deserve each and every one of those rights, because we have taken the responsibilities when we commit to partners.

However, this amendment is NOT ABOUT TWO HUNDRED RIGHTS. The amendment's 2nd sentence says, essentially, that NOT ONE of these rights can EVER be ours in Wisconsin. I would gladly take one or two of the rights if it makes my family more secure.

If the people of Wisconsin believe that they are voting to prevent us from having all 200 rights, they will likely vote YES.

On the other hand, if we show them in good faith that we are simply asking for a seat at the table, for security, for stability. Then they will be inclined to join us in voting NO.

At 7:30 AM, Blogger Paul said...

What a good discussion we're having here. I think I agree with everyone! But it is true that the most important thing right now is to defeat the amendment. I think it's wise to call it the "gay marriage and civil unions ban", but we also need to educate people on EXACTLY what this amendment will do.


At 3:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, we do need to focus on defeating the amendment. but let's not forget that, when people walk into the voting booth, they will fixate on the marriage aspect of this - that is what they understand. we should still try to connect with people on a level they get, which is marriage. yes, at the same time, we need to tell them this would ban civil unions, but that's a phrase that doesn't mean anything to many people.

At 9:33 PM, Anonymous Robert said...

I am absolutely disgusted by the commercial put forth by the opposing side. Using little children to send an outrageous message. SICK! I am currently attending a college where virtually any major is required to take a course in diversity. Now "they" are teaching our elementary students not only to pass judgement, but to outright discriminate and hate. What isn't wrong with this? We need not to focus on this as being a Gay Marriage ban, can my partner and I get married now??? We need to focus on every unmarried couple out their with or without children, making sure that they know they will have no rights unless they are married or this ban is defeated!


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