Whether Civil Unions or Civil Partnerships, Americans Do Not Agree

Some call them "civil unions." The Minneapolis Star Tribune calls them "civil partnerships." No matter what they're called, where civil unions have become law the marriage debate remains unresolved.  Even so, the December 28, Star Tribune editorial "Can gay cowboys find true equality?" posits that the state "should leave marriage to religion and get into the business of civil partnerships" as a means to satisfy both sides in the marriage debate.  Thanks to the blunder in Connecticut, same-sex civil unions have been exposed as a bait-and-switch scheme, designed to obtain homosexual marriage via an incremental approach and to forestall efforts that would allow the people to vote on the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
In April the governor of Connecticut signed a civil union bill that granted same-sex couples all the benefits of marriage, and, as a nod to conservatives, protected marriage as between one man and one woman.  However, rather than satisfying both sides, the bill has done just the opposite.  Instead of closure, civil unions have put same-sex marriage supporters one step closer to achieving same-sex marriage - exactly what the legislators and the voters meant to avoid.
Immediately, Connecticut same-sex marriage supporters declared the bill was a "down payment on same-sex marriage" and announced their determination to fight on for full-fledged marriage rights.  Anne Stanback, president of an advocacy group called Love Makes a Family, said the conversation isn't over.  "Today we celebrate this step forward. Tomorrow we begin again to work towards the day when there are not two lines at town hall…"  Stanback's statement seems prescient as Connecticut applications for civil unions are practically non-existent and Town Clerks don't expect demand to rise.  Carrie Evans of the Human Rights Campaign believes many same-sex couples may be waiting for full marriage status.
Connecticut is an example of what gay activists call an incremental approach to obtaining same-sex marriage.  In the "Independent Gay Forum" gay activist Dale Carpenter proposes homosexuals use the California Model, described as "Spousal Rights by Increments."  "Adopting civil unions will add a strong weapon to the arsenal of arguments for gay marriage," he concludes.
"This seems to be the tactic in Minnesota," says Tom Prichard of Minnesota Family Council.  "The strategy is to block marriage amendment efforts by convincing legislators that there is a difference between civil and religious marriage.  Then, secure legal incidents like civil unions.  As time goes by, Minnesotans will perceive these unions as virtually indistinguishable from traditional marriage.  That's what happened in Scandinavia, and it's happening elsewhere in Europe," he concluded.
Not all gays and lesbians agree that civil unions are good for same-sex couples or even the institution of marriage.  Dale Carpenter reports that University of Minnesota sociology professor Kathleen Hull believes "civil unions might further normalize the treatment of gays and lesbians as a separate class of citizens."  And, concludes Carpenter, "If civil unions could be expected to have this effect, they should be resisted while we wait for marriage."
To their credit, some gay activists believe civil unions cheapen traditional marriage by reducing it to little more than a legal contract between two people.  This marriage-lite is the real "slippery slope to the end of the family as we know it, says Jonathan Rauch.  Like his opponents, who warn homosexual marriage will open the door to polygamy, pederasty and group marriage, Rauch states, "To whatever extent gay marriage gives polygamists a foot in the front door, the alternatives [civil unions] give them a whole leg in the back door."
Despite these warnings, the Minneapolis Star Tribune chooses to hide in a celluloid fantasy-land of movies rather than deal with the failure, lack of consensus – and interest – for civil unions in other parts of the country.  The reality is that a civil union is just marriage by another name; and leaving the "marriage business" and getting into the "civil partnerships business" is just a bait-and-switch scheme designed to force one form of morality upon another.  The only business the state should "get into" is representing the will of the people by allowing them to vote on the definition of marriage.
Charles H. Darrell
Director of Communications
Minnesota for Marriage/ Minnesota Family Council

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