Tuesday, July 9, 2013

It's official: Civil Unions are NOT equal.

Now that Clause 3 of DOMA has fallen, those of us who are legally married now have Federal recognition and access to over 1000 rights and responsibilities under federal law. Those of us who are DP's or CU'd? Not so much. From the WaPo:
The Obama administration will not extend federal-worker benefits to domestic partners under the Supreme Court ruling that overturned part of the Defense of Marriage Act, meaning the government will treat civil unions differently than legal same-sex marriages.

The Office of Personnel Management made that announcement in a series of memos to federal benefits administrators and insurance carriers, saying couples who are not legally married “will remain ineligible for most federal benefits programs.” However, any existing benefits provided to domestic partners will remain intact, OPM said.
So, what does this mean? In a state like New Jersey, where the legislature has tried to pass of civil unions as "the same," and have been challenged in court, now there is concrete evidence that civil unions and domestic partnerships are NOT the same as marriage. From Think Progress:
Four states continue to offer civil unions: Hawaii, Colorado, Illinois, and New Jersey (Rhode Island’s civil unions will end August 1 when the marriage equality law takes effect). Though Colorado would require a constitutional amendment to upgrade civil unions to marriages, the decision has a profound impact on legislative efforts in the other three states. Lawmakers in each have argued that civil unions are satisfactory and provide the same benefits as opposite-sex couples’ marriages, but under federal law that is no longer true. This is particularly true in New Jersey, where the state Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples deserve complete equality, so civil unions offered there are now a violation of the state’s constitution.
Those states are now on the front line for marriage equality.  Because as we've said here all along, CIVIL UNIONS ARE NOT MARRIAGE.  And now the government agrees.

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