By Melanie Nathan, June 06, 2012.
While the religious right wing lobby and their political buddies constantly propose Civil Unions as the ultimate form of legal and civil parity for same-gender couples, in reality this is separate and absolutely not equal and hence not a viable alternative. Many have fallen for the ploy. Now the State of Illinois and its 5,000 “Civil Unioned” provide the proof of a pudding well eaten – and indeed there is no such parity! There is no equality when you apply one law for one type of couple and another law for the other type of couple. It is time to fight for what is right – marriage for all couples.
The Illinois civil unions law had its first anniversary this month and the nearly 5,000 couples throughout the state who registered for a license over the past year have encountered many legal and everyday life obstacles. The intent of the legislation to provide equality to these couples is clearly thwarted and all they legislation has succeeded in doing is institutionalizing a form of apartheid; we get to sit on separate benches and I go to the back of the bus.
The anti- gay marriage wing in the U.S.A. assert that there is absolutely no valid reason to allow same-sex couples the right to laws that pertain to marriage when they could be provided with exactly the same rights through a separate law termed Civil Unions and the assertion for this distinction is based solely on the misconception that there is a so called “Institution of Traditional Marriage” which is reserved specifically for couples who do not share the same gender.
If one were to lend any credence to the notion that in fact there is an exclusive club known as the ‘Institution of Traditional Marriage’ then such can only be based on marriage as a religious concept. The reason is that in the U.S.A. we have a Constitution that specifically provides for equal treatment under the law and it so happens that the rules pertaining to marriage in the U.S.A. are not governed by a specific church or churches but rather by government.
Yes, when one signs up for a license and indulges in the promise of the legally binding contract that ensues, the hopefully not so fabled concept of the separation of Church and State must pertain to marriage.
When marrying one agrees to be bound by the obligations of marriage, which includes, inter alia, the reciprocal legal duty support of support between spouses, and the assumption of a myriad of legal rights, such as the right to share in community property.
In findings released Friday by a statewide LGBT advocacy group show couples united by civil unions in Illinois faced unequal treatment when filing for taxes, obtaining health insurance, buying a house and even getting a civil union license in some of the 102 state counties.
“As we feared, civil unions have not turned out to be equal to civil marriages,” Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, said in a statement. “In area after area, couples were either treated unequally or denied their rights. As we learned in history, separate does not make equal.”
According to an Article at Chicago Phoenix :
“The Equality Illinois study found dozens of couples united by civil unions experienced discrimination by public and private agents across the state, who seem unfamiliar with the rights and obligations protected by the law.
Couples reported having difficulty when applying for a birth certificate in both parents’ names, picking up or dropping off a prescription for a sick civil union spouse at a pharmacy, and said individuals and institutions denied them services alleging civil unions is not equivalent to marriage.
Acknowledging the law as an advancement toward equality, but cautious about its separate status when compared to marriage, Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago), a long-time advocate for LGBT rights in Springfield, said the focus now is to gather support for same-sex marriage in the state.”
While some assert such as Harris that “The civil union law was a remarkable first step” it is clear that it simply does not work to provide equality, thereby further dispelling the right wing notion that Civil Unions could be a feasible alternative and making it clear that Constitutional rights to equal treatment have been seriously breached.
What a shame that so many people have had to be the guinea pigs in such a pervasive experiment – one that messes with everyday lives – but the law in Illinois is clearly exclusive and now this has become clear evidence for the fight ahead.
On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and the New York-based Lambda Legal filed lawsuits on behalf of 25 couples in the state seeking to legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois. The couples in both lawsuits tried to apply for marriage licenses in Cook County but were denied.
Both legal actions are a challenge to a state law that defines a marriage as between a man and a woman. According to the lawsuits, the Illinois Constitution guarantees the right for same-sex couples to marry under due process and equal protection clauses.