We've also talked numerous times about the "marriage lite" aspect of civil unions, and how in France, where gays can only get civil unions but straights can choose unions (PACS) or marriage, more straights are choosing the civil union.
This illustrates two problems.
First, tying health insurance to employment is nuts. This creates a pressure to have some sort of legal relationship solely for insurance coverage (and we know there are lots of couples who have married just for the insurance.)
But second, and significantly, there's this, from Patrick Appel:
Creating straight civil unions would change marriage far more than incorporating gays into the institution and it would likely impact existing civil unions. For many gays and lesbians civil unions are the only legal option currently. If straights use civil unions as a less serious institution than marriage, what happens to the status of gay and lesbian civil unions? In other words, would straights using civil unions as a dumping ground for less permanent relationships degrade gay unions?
Of course it would! That's the point. Civil unions are not viewed as "serious". They are not viewed as the same as marriages. They are viewed as lesser, that's why those opposed to equality want to keep gays in them (although most would prefer we had nothing).
Should there be open "domestic partnerships" that allow individuals to "connect" regardless of their relationship, for certain benefits? There may be some argument for that-- a child with an elderly parent, roommates, those who "aren't ready" for marriage. But that kind of thing would make true marriage equality even more imperative.
As Appel says:
If the main benefit of straight civil unions is that they are easier to undo then marriage, if they replace promises of "for ever" with promises of "for now," then they may threaten one of the most important aspects of marriage. To vow the rest of your life to someone is, in some cases, an unrealistic act. But the weight of that promise stretches our virtues and shrinks our vices.Exactly.
LGBT people deserve the right to make that vow.
I can't begin to explain to you, how wonderful it is to wake up every morning knowing that I am married to my beloved wife, and knowing that we have made, and will keep that vow.