Civil Unions Debate

History and Debate of Civil Unions

A civil union is a legally recognized union similar to that of marriage. This type of union is also sometimes referred to as a registered partnership. The first civil union laws were passed in Denmark in 1989, and many other jurisdictions have since followed suit. There are many reasons why a nation would adopt civil union laws, but the most common are to allow for same-sex couples' rights and to require the same responsibilities of same-sex couples as those that are required of opposite-sex couples.

Many nations recognize civil unions as separate from regular marriages. These include Austria, Greenland, Ireland, New Zealand, Finland and many others. In the United States, civil unions are recognized but are not performed. Whether or not they should be recognized or performed in the United States remains a source of great controversy.

The terms used to define civil unions are not uniform from nation to nation. The exact rights granted to partners under these unions vary. Some jurisdictions allow them to adopt children, while others reject this notion, usually on the grounds that it is not healthy to raise a child in the midst of a homosexual relationship.

Civil Union Viewpoints

In the United States, the term civil union has come to denote a union with status equal to marriage. This precedent was set when Vermont legalized the union in 2000. The term civil union is not used on western states, which prefer to refer to such relationships as domestic partnerships. Proponents of the civil union in the United States see it as a union equal to that of marriage, but the gay and lesbian community seems to disagree. Opponents of the civil union state that it is "separate but equal" and has a similar flavor to segregation in the early 1900s. They also believe that treating same-sex couples differently under the law opens the door for future unequal treatment of these people and these children by society as a whole. Calling a union between people of the same-sex anything other than a marriage is, in a sense, denying them the right to marry.

Many supporters of the civil union argue that they provide rights that are equal to those of marriage and are thus acceptable. People who are united in a civil union have the same hospital visitation rights and property transfer rights as those who are married. Many supporters also believe that allowing a civil union between same-sex couples is a way of avoiding the issue of same-sex marriage. It is seen as a type of compromise. Same-sex couples are given the rights that they demand and the religious right is satisfied with the knowledge that same-sex marriage is still illegal.

Opinions on civil unions vary throughout the United States. Some states' constitution's ban all same-sex unions. Texas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Florida and Oklahoma are among these. Other states, such as New York, do not perform civil union ceremonies but will recognize the union if it is formed elsewhere. Civil unions are most common in the New England States, including New Jersey, Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut. Hawaii also started performing civil unions in 2002, and Illinois is the most recent state to approve them in 2011. Whether or not civil unions or same-sex marriages should be performed remains a matter of opinion, but there is a growing government trend to legalize such relationships.

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For Civil Unions

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