Civil Unions are Discriminatory

  • The only reason to create a separate “civil union” status for lesbian and gay couples would be to keep them from entering civil marriages. Imagine if this were done to any other group. If the New Jersey legislature said that Irish-Americans could not marry and only could enter “civil unions,” would anyone think that was fair or right or anything other than discrimination? No group’s rights deserve to be compromised away.
  • Setting up a separate scheme tells people that those who are gay don’t deserve to be allowed to get married and instead should be given something else. As a result, the “civil union” status labels lesbians and gay men and their relationships as inferior to others. This wrongfully robs lesbian and gay people of dignity and respect.
  • All families should be honored, without some being told they are second class. Setting up a separate system for gay people would send a terrible message to same-sex couples’ children.
    New Jersey is committed to equal treatment of people regardless of their sexual orientation. To set up a separate status for lesbian and gay couples would violate that principle and cause the government to set an example to employers, businesses, health care providers and the public that gay people deserve to be treated differently.
  • The name “marriage” matters. Ask any married couple if they would feel like they lost something if the government told them they were no longer “married” and instead were in a “civil union.” The feelings of being “married” and the security that comes from others understanding what that means are what same-sex couples would be denied by being forced into a separate “civil union” status.
    Marriage conveys meaning that a new concept like “civil unions” can’t. It’s demeaning to have to explain what a “civil union” is rather than being able to use the language of commitment people understand marriage to represent. The confusing nature of a new status like this has even led to some people being kept from seeing their loved ones in the hospital before they died. Allowing gay people “civil unions” only also denies some parents the joy of ever hearing their grown child say, “I’m getting married.”
  • Other states and the federal government disrespect same-sex couples enough as it is when they cross state lines and deal with federal taxes and social security, so imagine what happens when the couples’ own state creates a separate status for them.
  • We all learned long ago that separate and unequal is not the way to go. Civil unions are a morally compromised position. New Jersey shouldn’t discriminate by setting up a separate system for a minority of people that the majority wouldn’t accept for themselves.

New Jersey is better than that.

November 1, 2006