Why marriage equality matters

Civil Unions don't offer the same rights as marriage. (via)

Civil Unions don’t offer the same rights as marriage. (via)

If you haven’t encountered these types of people yet, you will inevitably run into people who say things like, “Why do we need marriage equality? If gay people’s love is so deep and real, they wouldn’t need the law to acknowledge it,” or “Marriage is between a man and a woman, but I support same-sex Civil Unions.” While the second option is a nice first step, it’s not good enough. And as beautiful as marriage ceremonies are, marriage is not just about promising to spend the rest of your life with someone—there are a number of privileges couples gain when they get married.

So what’s the difference between a civil union and a marriage? Why aren’t civil unions enough? If you don’t already know the answers to these questions, read on. And if you do? Show this list to the next person who tries to tell you we don’t need marriage equality.

What’s the difference?

Civil Unions are often cited as a way to keep religious marriage ceremonies and legal marriage separate. In reality, because marriage is legally considered a contract, religious marriage ceremonies mean nothing legally until a marriage certificate is signed. Marriage equality would have no influence on how religious marriage ceremonies are performed, or what kind of marriages religious institutions perform—marriage and religion are already separate. Marriage equality would just make it possible for same-sex couples to enter into the same contract signed by both religious and non-religious people.

Why aren’t civil unions enough?

Civil unions do not offer couples the same rights as married couples. Because civil unions are awarded at the state level, couples in a civil union don’t have the federal benefits of married couples, and can lose certain rights if they move to a state that doesn’t support same-sex marriage or civil unions.

But what if civil unions were treated as equal to marriage?

Even if marriage and civil unions were completely equal in terms of federal support and the amount of rights provided, history has shown the damage this sort of separate-but-equal system can cause. Keeping civil unions for same-sex couples only would make it easier to discriminate against couples in civil unions. True equality would mean all couples who wish to live together as life partners and receive the federal benefits would be grouped under one category—“married.” Otherwise, civil unions could be outlawed at any time, leaving couples who are “married” unaffected. Does that sound equal to you?

What do you think? Do you support marriage equality? Do you think civil unions are enough? Let us know in the comments below, on Twitter or by submitting your own post!

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