Thursday, June 07, 2007

Interesting Civil Union Editorial in the NYT

An Editorial in the New York Times this morning about the Civil Union fight in Connecticut shows one of two things, depending on your viewpoint: 1) People are never satisfied. 2) There is no such thing as “separate but equal". On the face of it, Connecticut had reached a reasonable alternative to gay marriages when it established civil unions for gays and lesbians two years ago. At least, one thought, Connecticut allowed gays and lesbians the same legal rights as married couples, even though the state did not allow gays and lesbians to marry. According to the Gay and Lesbian Times, Bennett Klein, the attorney (unnamed in the NYT editorial) representing eight same-sex couples in Connecticut said, “What the state calls something does matter...the only possible reason that the legislature denied marriage here and created a separate institution just for one minority group was because they thought marriage meant something.” The NYT said, “The plaintiffs’ argument was laced with references to Plessy v. Ferguson, the U.S. Supreme Court’s notorious 1896 decision which justified racial segregation under a deplorable standard of ‘separate but equal’. Although startling, the analogy is apt. In establishing civil unions two years ago, Connecticut lawmakers created a separate and inherently inferior institution that continues to deny gay couples the equality they seek and deserve.” The gay and lesbian couples’ position is that Connecticut’s marriage law is unconstitutional because it applies only to heterosexual couples and denies same-sex couples the financial, social and emotional benefits of marriage. The state of Connecticut claims that the civil union law grants all the rights of marriage to same-sex couples, and any difference amounts to “a difference in name alone”. As the NYT points out, “Saying a civil union is the same as marriage does not make it so. Civil unions are a newly invented category, neither universally recognized nor understood. Connecticut’s claim that the two terms are alike merely underscores the bottom-line question: Why relegate a minority group to a separate category?” The NYT went on to say that if the couples involved in this case lose, the Connecticut Legislature has an obligation to revisit the issue. The NYT Editorial closed saying, “A law that allows civil unions but not marriage is preferable to denying benefits and recognition to same-sex couples. But no one should confuse it with equality.” Currently, Massachusetts is the only state that allows same-sex couples to marry. The folks leading the vociferous battles against same-sex marriage would have an argument in their favor if heterosexual marriage were the wonderfully righteous and honorable institution it’s touted as being. But it isn’t. Four to five children die every day in the U.S. because of child abuse. There are 7.5 marriages per 1000 in the total population and 3.6 divorces per 1000 in the total population. Let the gays and lesbians marry. They surely can’t do worse than the heterosexuals as far as child abuse and divorce is concerned. And they might teach us all a thing or two about family stability and love.

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