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05 November 2008 @ 09:13 am
A Can of Wyrms: A Civil Discussion about Civil Unions.  
This is, very specifically, a request for solid information that, thus far, I have been unable to find on my own.

I am going to try to be very specific here, because I have a history of getting answers to every question except the one that I actually thought I asked.

Those who wish to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples often take refuge in the excuse that the laws of [State X] allow for "civil unions" that, supposedly, provide "all the same legal rights" as marriage.

Is this actually the case?

Do "civil unions", in particular those specified in California law, actually provide all of the legal benefits and protections of different-sex marriage?

I'm not asking for opinion. I'm asking for data. In particular, I'm asking for ammunition to counter those claims.

I am not opening this thread to a debate on whether any kind of marriage should have legal status, or whether anything over and above a "civil union" is a violation of the Wall of Separation between Church and State.* I have a Delete button, and I know how to use it.

I, personally, hold to the principle that "separate but equal" is never truly equal. Moreover, I feel that "merely semantic" distinctions are, in fact, important; "mere semantics" underlies how the human psyche works.

* Organized religion does not hold a monopoly on social tradition. Why do both its most vocal advocates and its most vocal opponents insist that it does?**
** I am not opening this thread to a discussion of Church monopoly of social tradition, either.***
*** If you want unlimited freedom of speech, git yer own damn blog.

I feel: curiouscurious
Bennie "Big Tig" Tigerbigtig on November 5th, 2008 06:27 pm (UTC)
Sue and I are domestic partners. So oddly, we're in the same category.

California state taxation requires we file a joint return regardless of how we filed federally. This means that Sue's earnings as an artist are taxed at my tech-salary rate when combined.

IIRC, there is no such requirement for marriage. So gay couples are taxed more heavily than straight.
Kreggankreggan on November 5th, 2008 06:27 pm (UTC)
Baxil: forbidden savannah lovebaxil on November 5th, 2008 06:33 pm (UTC)
Wikipedia, of course, isn't a 100% guarantee on anything, but the relevant article is sourced. In particular: "Some privileges are not available at all. Due to the federal Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA, same-sex couples in marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships in the U.S. do not have the 1,138 rights that a married heterosexual couple has under federal law." -- links to http://web.archive.org/web/20061109182904/http://www.nclrights.org/publications/pubs/2004GAO.pdf, which has a pretty huge list of citations of laws that specifically invoke marital status.

In addition, while heterosexual marriages must be accepted between states due to the Full Faith and Credit clause of the U.S. Constitution, the DOMA as written prevents same-sex DPs -- or even same-sex marriages -- from being similarly portable. It hasn't gone to the Supreme Court for constitutional challenge yet, so nobody quite knows whether the Big Nine will find some excuse to uphold it or not.
Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on November 5th, 2008 08:47 pm (UTC)
I'm probably skirting your "you'll get banned if you don't talk about the issue" thingie, but I feel very strongly that you're wholly right about the semantics issue. All the time people get deeply nihilistic about language when they run out of other arguments. Various "it's just semantics" arguments I feel are just conversation stoppers. I feel that whenever anyone breaks out a dictionary definition of a word that the conversation has basically broken totally down.

To address your issue, well, other people have done as good a job of it as I could do, but on a personal level the reason why I got married is precisely because a civil union didn't provide us with as many rights as marriage does. Though I love my wife deeply and passionately, and I can't imagine my life without her in it, I wasn't thrilled with the need to get married to get rights. Not at all.
Wywy on November 6th, 2008 01:53 am (UTC)

Tubetoob on November 6th, 2008 06:28 pm (UTC)
This probably isn't exactly what you're looking for, but someone else asked me if I really NEEDED legalized gay marriage if I had a domestic partnership. My answer:

Need? Hmm. That's debatable. Certainly our love will continue irrespective of whether the law pretends it's valid or not.

But actually getting Married with a capital M showed me that there are a lot of more subtle, less tangible ways that it is important, and I would say that the most significant is based in community.

If you look at most marriage ceremonies, you see that they're not just about the two people loving and committing to each other -- they're also about those two people and their new role within the community in which they live. The attendees are urged to help support this marriage; the couple is reminded that they are a representative of love and commitment for those around them.

That is to say, marriage is not a selfish thing. It is, at least in part, about finding your role, your place, as a couple, in the world around you.

This is why people so desperately want to ban gay marriage; because they know this. They know that legalizing gay marriage is about recognizing the couple, acknowledging their marriage, admitting that marriage into community.

And this is also why it is so desperately important to win. Without it, gay couples will never be accepted. We will never be a recognized part of our own society.