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Thursday, April 21, 2005

Oh, no! Now there's activist legislatures, too.

Hooray for Connecticut, where the legislature — you know, the people elected by the people themselves — passed a law yesterday allowing same-sex couples to enter legal civil unions. The Republican governor promptly signed it.

Are civil unions as good as marriage? No. I've come to agree with Jonathan Rauch's conservative argument for legal same-sex marriage — which includes the idea that civil unions are not an acceptable alternative in the end — but I also agree that legislative moves in the right direction are absolutely vital to the long-term prospects for same-sex marriage. Depending on the courts is not enough because, as we've seen over the past year, it fuels popular backlash movements to amend constitutions and strip the judicial branch of its independence. The activist legislators of Connecticut have done a marvelous thing.

("A Gay Rights Milestone," Daniela Altimari, Hartford Courant 4.21.05; "Conn. Approves Gay Civil Unions," Sarah Schweitzer, Boston Globe 4.21.05, reg req'd)

Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 21 April 2005 at 8:44 AM

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Jeff Wilson:

April 21, 2005 08:55 AM | Permalink for this comment

I'm so happy to hear this! Makes me proud of my homestate. And I'm glad we didn't have Rowland at the top, he might've made it harder.

Barbara W. Klaser:

April 21, 2005 12:42 PM | Permalink for this comment

Yes, at least it's in the right direction. That's great.


April 21, 2005 03:38 PM | Permalink for this comment

Civil Unions? Exactly what is a civil union in a purely legal sense ?


April 22, 2005 07:20 AM | Permalink for this comment

Yesterday the Spanish Congress passed the law allowing homosexual marriage (and I mean marriage, not "civil union", there is a hot debate on words here as well). Any report on that in the US media?


April 25, 2005 07:17 AM | Permalink for this comment

E.J. Graff splashes cold water on the Connecticut civil-unions law, pointing out that it includes a gratuitous denial of the right to marry to same-sex couples -- even though another law had already explicitly barred same-sex couples from marrying. She puts the Connecticut law in the context of other legislative half-steps forward:

There's nothing wrong with getting started on the road to equality by passing a civil unions law; moving incrementally is an honorable approach. Consider the breakthrough achieved in California, the first state to broadly protect same-sex couples without a shove from a court.

In 2000, California's legislature created a bare-bones domestic partnership registry for same-sex pairs. Each year since, the California legislature added more muscle and meaning to that registry and in 2003, made California's registered domestic partnership fully the equivalent of Vermont's civil unions, albeit without either the name or the controversy. That slow-but-steady approach, which attracted almost no national media attention, was overshadowed last year when San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's showy weddings pushed the marriage question into California court. Nevertheless, the California Legislature is now considering a bill that would extend full marriage rights to same-sex pairs.

This month Maryland took its first step on the same encouraging path, passing a domestic partnership registry that enables couples who register to make medical decisions for each other. Oregon is considering a combined civil unions and antidiscrimination bill, backed by the Democratic governor, Senate president, and majority leader. New Jersey's more minimal civil unions statute (originally opposed by then-closeted Governor James McGreevey) has stalled in place, possibly because advocates expect to win the same-sex marriage lawsuit slowly moving through the state's courts.

("The Connecticut Half-Step," E.J. Graff, Boston Globe 4.24.05, reg req'd)

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