The difference between gay marriage and civil union
Posted by mandyf on August 5, 2012
In the seemingly never ending discussion of gay marriage the argument is often made that civil unions are enough for gays and they should be happy with that. The proponents of this philosophy often argue that civil unions are just as good as marriage, in fact they often say they are the same exact thing aside from the semantics. Some of those people know better, some do not. The fact is that a civil union is not at all equal to gay marriage, and while more differences can be pointed out between the two than can be pointed out without causing extreme boredom or brain lock, there are 25 differences which are significant enough to merit at least a quick mention. Have no fear, not all require a full explanation.
The best way to present this is point by point so there is no confusion. These are all elements present in a legally conducted and recognized heterosexual marriage which are not present in a civil union offered to homosexual couples. After this sampling which is a drop in the bucket of the total number of differences, you will see why civil unions are not equal or even “just as good.”
1. Joint parental custody of children. In the world today it is no secret that gay couples have children and will continue to do so. The difference is that in the case of a divorce, only one parent has legal rights to the child which obviously means that without an amicable solution, a child and parent could be denied access to one another depending on the feelings of the parent that holds legal custody.
2. Joint adoption. In the case of a gay couple adopting, a couple may not adopt, however one half may. This is where point one becomes tricky as in most cases each parent has been present in the child’s life from the beginning.
3. Status as next of kin for hospital visits and medical decisions is not automatically assumed. While steps can be taken in advance to petition and file for those rights, it is an unnecessary hurdle they should not need to deal with. Some states will recognize this right, but 43 do not.
4. Civil unions offer no right of the surviving partner to assume the responsibility/right to dispose of the deceased partners remains. Again this can be set in motionprior to death by going through the legal channels of the court system, but in far too many cases these provisions have been challenged and won by a biological member of the deceased persons family and easily won. In some cases it has been so ridiculous that relatives that kicked their gay child out of their home and severed ties with them have won challenges against a partner of of twenty years.
5. Civil unions fail to offer the same privileges in regards to immigration and naturalization of a partner which are present in heterosexual marriages. The moral of this story is do not fall in love with a non-citizen unless you intend to and are capable of moving to where they reside.
6. Gay civil partners have no claim to victims recovery benefits.
7. Gay civil partners have no civil immunity and judicial protections. What this means is that a person can be forced to testify against his partner in court or face fines and jail time for contempt of court to more severe punishments depending on the whim of the judge.
8. Civil unions do not offer the right to domestic violence protection orders. Domestic violence is as much a reality among gay couples as straight couples, yet a gay civil partnership is lacking this legal right.
9. A gay partner has no rights to automatic inheritance of their partners estate, even if shared, in the case of a death without a will. Again this has been challenged by biological family members of the deceased and found in their favor far too many times to be reasonable. To be clear, a couple of twenty years who shared and paid off a home as their primary legal residence is not protected. A judgement could be handed down in which the surviving partner is forced to compensate a third party for “their share” of the house.
10. Public Safety Officers death benefits
11. Veterans spousal/death benefits
12. Social Security
14. Wrongful death benefits for the surviving partner and/or children.
15. Sick leave to care for a partner as well as bereavement leave for a recently deceased partner.
16. Joint filing of income tax returns
17. Joint insurance plans
18. Child support
19. Tax credits including those for children and lifetime earnings and HOPE credits.
20. Estate and gift tax benefits
21. Joint housing for the disabled and elderly
22. Deferred compensation payments and IRA’s
23. Credit protection
24. Welfare and public assistance programs benefits as a couple
25. Medical Care for the partners and children of qualified veterans.
While this may seem like a lengthy list, remember that it is only 25 of the more than 1400 differences present between a marriage and a civil union. Really let that sink in a moment, 1400 differences. Can you honestly consider that and the tiny sampling provided and say now that civil unions and gay marriage are the same thing? Can you say civil unions are just as good? For any that still feel they are, take the challenge and live your married life under the same provisions for just 10 years, even 5 years, and see if you still feel the same way. It can be seen now why gay couples are so adamant about gay marriage being passed into law, it isn’t necessarily all about the word marriage, it is about the 1400 plus rights that they cannot enjoy which the people that continue to say civil unions are just as good are not forced to live without.