Confused? Let me explain. In an attempt to add humor to a serious situation, I am referring to civil unions, a la Emily Litella. Alas, there is only one Gilda Radner, part of the original cast of Saturday Night Live, who created the wonderful Emily Litella, the queen of malapropisms, or using the incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound. Emily would make an editorial reply discussing “violins on television” when the issue was “violence on television”. When informed of her blunder, she would reply, “Oh, that’s very different. Never mind.”
When discussing gay marriage with a group of people, chances are you’ll find a few who say civil unions are fine, but marriages should be reserved for what society deems as the traditional man/woman couple. I wasn’t sure what side of the fence I was on because until recently, I didn’t understand the difference. And when discussing the difference in the same group, you’re bound to get the answer that marriage is recognized by the church where a civil union is not.
The root of the issue, I discovered, runs deeper. For example, I have heterosexual friends who married at city hall. Is that considered a civil union? There was no religious ceremony involved. Of course not. Legally, my friends are married, and it is a recognized marriage by their state, all other states, and the church.
A little research informed me that civil unions are recognized unions, just like marriages, but those in civil unions do not enjoy the same rights or benefits as married couples. That’s what our gay friends are fighting for, the same rights and benefits as their married friends.
Additionally, because not all states recognize civil unions, those unions become invalid when crossing state lines where they are not recognized. Married partners can also sponsor their spouse for immigration when necessary, where someone in a civil union cannot. That is a huge difference. Other benefits for married couples, yet not for those in civil unions include joint filing joint tax returns and other tax benefits, legal rights to the assets of a deceased spouse, and family medical leave.
Same sex marriage vs. civil union is a problem that will likely correct itself in the future. Like the Jim Crow laws that permitted segregation up until 1965, most young people today do not have the issues with race or same-sex marriage that generations before them may have had. When they become the generation creating laws, this issue will probably disappear. In the future, people will look back on this situation and just like segregation, wonder why it was ever an issue. Sure, there will always be some who oppose civil unions or same-sex marriage, and that is their right. In a nutshell, that is what is fight is all about. The right to feel the way you do and act accordingly, as long as it isn’t hurting anyone.
As Ms. Litella would say, that’s very different because the topic of civil unions deserves all the fuss. Never mind…