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Argument: Civil unions invite second-class treatment and discrimination

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Supporting quotations

"Civil Unions Are Not Enough. Six Key Reasons Why." Lambda Legal: "4. A separate and unequal status invites others to discriminate. When the government decides one group cannot have the same choice as others, it marks them as inferior and invites others to discriminate against them as well, including employers, businesses, police, emergency room workers and others. Lambda Legal has testimony and numerous phone calls to our Help Desks to prove it. Take one example: Two lesbians had a civil union protected by law. One with kidney failure was hospitalized and unconscious, and the other could not get hospital staff to respect their relationship. The staff even took the patient’s commitment ring off her finger for safekeeping and refused to give the ring to her partner. Instead, they asked her to identify the patient’s blood relatives. Lambda Legal located the hospital’s attorney and got him to make the calls necessary to ensure respect for the couple’s relationship — but only after the couple underwent emotional trauma. This happens even with the well-intentioned. The otherwise LGBT-friendly employer, UPS, initially denied spousal health insurance to our civil-unionized clients in New Jersey. They said that "[b]ased on an initial legal review when New Jersey's civil union law was enacted, it did not appear that a 'civil union' and 'marriage' were equivalent," even though the specific text of the law defined civil union partners as spouses. UPS’s initial position underscored the U.S. Supreme Court’s words in Lambda Legal’s successful Lawrence v. Texas case: the government’s label of inferiority for gay people is a blanket invitation for others to discriminate against them in all areas of their lives."

"Civil Unions Are Not Enough. Six Key Reasons Why." Lambda Legal: "retaining the traditional definition of marriage and affording same-sex couples only a separate and differently named family relationship will, as a realistic matter, impose appreciable harm on same-sex couples and their children, because denying such couples access to the familiar and highly favored designation of marriage is likely to cast doubt on whether the official family relationship of same-sex couples enjoys dignity equal to that of opposite-sex couples.'"

Andrew Sullivan. "Why 'civil union' isn't marriage." The New Republic. May 8, 2000: "there are no arguments for civil union that do not apply equally to marriage. To endorse one but not the other, to concede the substance of the matter while withholding the name and form of the relationship, is to engage in an act of pure stigmatization. It risks not only perpetuating public discrimination against a group of citizens but adding to the cultural balkanization that already plagues American public life."

"Civil unions called second-class status." Sun Journal. February 17, 2008: "A commission established to study same-sex civil unions in New Jersey has found in its first report that civil unions create a 'second-class status' for gay couples, rather than giving them equality.[...] [the report] find[s] that gay couples in Massachusetts, the only state that now allows same-sex marriage, do not experience some of the legal complications that those in New Jersey do [where there are civil unions]."

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