17 March 2009

Civil Unions for All

The state of Vermont is considering a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage; supporters say it's necessary because the civil union law passed in 2000 doesn't give partners the same benefits as marriage.

Simple solution: redefine civil union. Give members of a civil union all of the rights and responsibilities of marriage, including health benefits and other protections as well as full responsibility for any children produced by the union.

And then open civil union to mixed-sex as well as same-sex couples.

Anyone who wanted to could have a religious wedding.

In Germany, many people marry twice, once in a civil ceremony and again in a religious wedding. The civil union is the legally recognized one; the religious ceremony more likely to be a large celebration with friends and family.

In the United States, couples get paperwork from a secular office such as a county clerk's office, and then it is completed by the religious officiant at the wedding. This seems to violate constitutional demands for separation of church and state, but as a well-established practice, this could continue to be used by couples having a religious wedding as an alternative to a civil union.

Am I missing something? Is this a solution that could possibly bother anyone?