I was recently discussing the quest for marriage equality in the US with a buddy of mine, who happens to come from Pennsylvania (the significance of which will become apparent below). My friend asked “why do gay people need to be married? With many states recognizing civil unions and many companies providing domestic partnership benefits, don’t they already have the equivalent of marriage?”.
Here’s how I answered:
How would you feel if the government said you can’t get married because you’re from Pennsylvania? We’ll let you do something that’s kind of like being married (but isn’t really) and it has most of the rights and privileges of marriage (but not entirely) and when your kids ask why you’re not married you’ll have to tell them it’s because you’re from Pennsylvania and they’ll go “huh?”.
The point being it’s easy to think of civil unions as being “good enough” when you’re not one of the people being told who you can or can’t marry.
This lighthearted video from Ireland makes the point eloquently:
Those of you living outside of Washington state may not know about our Referendum 71 – it asks voters to reaffirm or deny various domestic partnership rights already approved by our state legislature. Similar to California’s infamous Proposition 6, it’s an attempt to circumvent the established law by taking the question directly to voters. I just filled in my WA state ballot, and I voted “Approved” to affirm our state domestic partnership laws . If you live in WA state, I hope you do the same thing.
If Referendum 71 passes, I’ll be happy. But it will be just one more step toward the real goal, which is a time when civil unions are unnecessary, when everyone in America enjoys the right to marry the person they love. I’m not sure when that will happen but I think it’s coming soon. As Barack Obama once said: “Nothing can stand in the way of the power of millions of voices calling for change.” If you agree with me, please make your voice heard.