I agree with many of the "NO" opinions here, that a civil union for a same-sex marriage just continues the discrimination (and the religious rhetoric). Most people agree that the state does not really have the mandate to define marriage any more than it has a mandate to decide whether baptism should be by immersion or by sprinkling.
What if we take the state out of the marriage business totally. I mean, by that, changing all laws and contracts to use "civil union" instead of "marriage" across the board. The state gets to define "civil union" and the church gets to define "marriage." Everybody (not just same-sex couples) would have to get a license from the state for a civil union. Once that is approved, the couple goes to the church of their choice for the marriage ceremony. The state has no authority to dictate the details of the marriage ceremony so all they need is a ceremony with witnesses to verify the date and location where the ceremony was completed. That information goes on file as a Civil Union, and should be sufficient for any purpose where a Marriage License would have been required in the past.
I admit "Certificate of Civil Union" does not have the same bang as "Certificate of Marriage" but maybe somebody with more imagination could come up with a better title.
Civil-unions can avoid second-class treatment and discrimination. I think we should allow gay marriage and give them the rights as any other citizen. We continue to go back and forth on the issue and I think to move forward it will finally be accepted. This is not an issue that is just going to go away.
I believe that civil unions will uphold second-class treatment and discrimination against homosexuals. Marriage and civil unions are not the same and they do not offer the same benefits. People who identify as homosexuals deserve the same and equal rights as any other person and giving them less is discriminating.
There is no such thing as "separate but equal" in the United States. We discovered that more than a century ago when we were institutionally discriminating against non-Whites. Civil unions are simply a way to keep people whose love deserves full recognition and legal benefits from obtaining equality in the eyes of the law and society. If hate grops don't like equal marriage, then they don't have to get married.
By having a separate category for gay people to enter into partnerships, rather than just marriage like everyone else, it is creating a second class situation. "Separate but equal" is not something that exists in reality. You can not be equal if you are not "allowed" to have the same things that other people are allowed to have.
Civil unions don't save gay couples from second-class treatment and discrimination. There's no substitute for marriage besides actual marriage. Therefore, this group of people deserves to marry just as much as straight couples. Otherwise, discrimination won't slow or end for this group any time soon, which is just a travesty.
Equal treatment under the law means equal rights and privileges. A civil union is not equal to a marriage. It does not afford the same dignity nor the same title, and in some states it does not even include the over 1,000 rights that a married couple has over an unmarried couple.
Discrimination in many facets will always exist. Although all individuals are not guilty of this, society will always discriminate against what is considered to be outside of the social norm. Tolerance is improving, but both gay marriage and civil unions will always face second-class treatment to some degree, just as interracial marriage does.