Civil Unions for everyone! (A possible solution?)

Couldn’t one possible compromise regarding the legality of gay marriages be solved, by the goverment no longer authorizing marriages, but rather civil unions for all couples. The term marriage would then be an event that could only be performed by a religious group.

This would result in the government no longer passing any sort of judgement on what constitutes a marriage, as its definition differs from person to person. The rights for all couples under a civil union would be the same.

Heterosexual couples who wanted to have a true “marriage”, would then have it in the church, and sign their civil union papers for the goverment’s purposes. And those gay couples that want to call what they have a marriage, would merely have to find a church that would allow them to take on the ceremonial title. (And they are out there.)

This idea has been brought up here and it has led to major hissy fits.

I like the idea, but I don’t think you’ll be able to overcome the immense cultural momentum of the idea that “a couple is married.” The term/idea marriage is so ingrained, to just say, “oh, we’re not going to do those any more,” just won’t work, IMO. Heck, I’ve got friends who have been civil unioned, and I just call it getting married. They’re married.

To me (and I imagine to many people) marriage is what you call a relationship in which the participants have publically pledged themselves to each other in whatever manner floats their respective boats. I think you’re much more likely to see a greater secularization of the word marriage than have marriage become exclusively religious.

I think that this will only sound good to those who aren’t already opposed to “gay marriage.”

Intreresting suggestion. Two people don’t need permission of the state to live together, spend time together, share finances, make joint contracts, etc. Presumably the reason to make a “civil union” available is to give the relationship some sort of legal status.

What legal rights and responsibilities do you think a civil union should convey?

I agree. The OP just talks about changing terms. If you decide to call it “Civil Unions” instead of “Marriage” what does this mean? You can rename if offically to “Going Steady” if you like. The question is what is the difference? What legal rights come along with marriage and/or civil unions?

I’ve wondered about someof the arguments 've heardfrom those ho oppose gay marriages. IMHO, the gov has never given any sanctity to the institution of marriage. Sanctity comes from the religious aspects of being married before God. I’ve not been clear as to how any actions of the gov can effect what God has joined together.

I think that’s a splendid idea. It not only does away with discrimination, but it’s one more step of separating the church from the state.

Of course, it’ll never fly, but I still like the idea.


I have a friend who is even more conservative than I & he actually had this idea the other day- that he would rather see “marriage” be out of the hands of the state & the state just
perform civil unions rather than have the concept of marriage
applied to gay couples.

I was thinking about this the other day. However, I was also thinking in terms of heterosexual singles too.

I had a great aunt who was childless and spent the last two decades of her life with another widow. I can assure you they were both heterosexual, but they’d both lost their husbands and didn’t want to get into the fray of marriage again, They dated men, but they were each others constant companions until the day my great aunt died. It seemed to me that my aunt’s friend should have had more rights to her final health decisions and property than her barely recognized nieces and nephews who had pretty much lost contact with her since her husband died.

It seems to me that had they should been able to recognize their relationship as more than just roommates. A “civil union” would have been far more equitable to my aunt’s friend, when my greedy relatives swept in and took everything that wasn’t nailed down, and sued for the stuff which was.

Keep in mind that despite the fact that my aunt had a will, her friend still got screwed when it came to law suites that my greedy-ass relations undertook.

I think it’s funny that the people who would likely oppose this would decry that Marriage has a long history of government recognition and this would somehow erode it. It wasn’t until 1836 that Parliment passed the Marriage and Registration Acts of 1836. These acts, for the first time in history, made marriages a civil function and registered by the government in the U.K.

I can’t find documentation of when marriages were first recorded and licensed by the government in the U.S.

But the tradition is relatively new.

You have my support. The rights and privileges conveyed by government under the term “marriage” should be changed to “civil unions”. The reason to make the change is because so many people equate marraige with the religious connotation marriage (which they further equate to one man an one woman, despite the roots of their religion also recognized polygamy).

So let churchs perform weddings and produce marriages. Let the government pronouce civil unions. Let the states determine, consistent with Constitutional law, who can participate in civil unions.

What rights (privileges)? Just a few include the right to make medical decisions in times of incapacitation, the right to inherit property outside probate, the right to get screwed on your taxes, the right to participate in employer provided spousal benefits (should employer elect to offer), and the right to join financial affairs (assets and liabilities) without the additional burden of external written legal agreements.

What business is it of the state to discriminate on legal matters alone? If you have moral issues, leave that to the churches - they can decide on their own what they think is required to be “married”.

I like it. The government recognizes two people becoming a legal and financial partnership. The churches perform whatever marriages they want to. Everybody’s happy, and conservatives and liberals, gays and straights, all join hands and do the happy dance in a big field full of flowers.

Okay, maybe that last part won’t happen. But I still think it’s a fair proposal.

Well, I don’t think it matters what you call it. People who have undergone a ‘Civil Union’ will just call themselves ‘married’ anyway as will almost anyone else.

Well, IANAL, but i believe that certain government programs and recogntion are only available to married couples.

For example, i’m living in the United States on an F1 student visa. My girlfriend is an American, and we plan to spend the rest of our lives together. Now, under normal circumstances, neither of us would feel the need to confirm this union by getting married. We are not religious, and have no particular desire for a ceremony to formalise our togetherness.

However, if we decide to stay in the United States, the process by which i can become a permanent resident of this country is infinitely easier if we are married. In fact, without such a formal union, i believe it is no easier for me to become a permanent resident than if i simply made an individual application. (I’ve only done a bit of research on this so far; if i’m wrong i’d be happy to hear it).

So we will probably end up getting married, just to save the hassle. The marriage will not be some sort of sham just to allow me to remain in the country, because we fully intend to be together permanently, but it will be a procedure that we could just as easily have done without.

And what about other government-connected things like taxes? Do you have to be married to file joint returns? Or are common-law relationships recognized? Are there tax benefits to be gained from being married under current US tax law?

How about health insurance. If one partner in a relationship has health benefits provided by his or her work, do such benefits extend to a common-law partner, or only to a spouse?

These are genuine questions, as i haven’t yet looked into these issues.

While i am thinking about these issues from my own heterosexual, immigrant point of view, surely they must be relevant to the gay community also? Civil unions, applying equally to all, might help to clear away some of these questions.

Another thing that comes to mind is that civil unions might help to alleviate some of the emotional agonies that occur when people are in an accident or have a terminal illness. If civil unions conferred familial status on the two parties, we could avoid situations where gay lovers were prevented from making decisions in the interests of their partners because they’re not “family.”

I’m sure there are many other possible benefits.

Could this be what people are concerned about when they worry about gay marriage devaluating straight marriage? That complaints about the unfairness of marriage will lead to a cessation of government condonement of marriage?

Also, if marriage is strictly private, will that mean that “marriage” simply means that the people involved have declared themselves to be married?