Attorney Ted Olson and NY AG Eric Schneiderman Pen Joint Editorial on the Insufficiency of Civil Unions

AFER attorney Ted Olson and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (pictured) have penned a joint opinion piece in the New York Daily News arguing that civil unions are no substitute for marriage equality.

Says the editorial, in part: Schneiderman

"In New York, there are more than 1,300 state rights and responsibilities that come with a marriage license. From spousal inheritance rights to the ability to file joint tax returns to child custody rules to the transferring of workers' compensation benefits, the scope of marriage-related law is expansive. Some are fundamental, others mundane – but all serve to underscore how deeply interwoven New York's marriage laws are and how extraordinarily they reach into the lives of countless people…

…A civil union is not a marriage, nor is it an adequate substitute for one. To suggest otherwise is a cruel fiction. Even if all of the inherent confusion and complexities could be resolved and civil unions could somehow provide couples with the same rights and responsibilities of a true marriage, the separation of the two institutions creates a badge of inferiority that forever stigmatizes the relationships of committed same-sex couples as different, separate, unequal and less worthy."

Read the whole piece here.


  1. says

    Could their argument be any weaker, or full of abstractions?
    ‘cruel fiction, badge of inferiority, stigmatizes, less worthy.’ Please.
    They claim that CUs cannot provide the same rights. Here in WA state, they do. And CUs are better strategy. They’re supported by the public, so would be harder to repeal, and have less chance of causing a backlash against our allies.
    Queue the self righteous venom.

  2. me says

    @wilberforce, if you’re saying that the government should stay out of “marriage” and instead just have “civil unions” (for gay and straight), that’s fine. otherwise, you’re essentially making the “separate is equal” argument.

  3. John B. says

    Whenever the option of “civil unions” comes up, the first question we should ask is, “what happens to my ‘civil union’ when I cross a state line?” (Answers should range from “ummm… I don’t know” to “it will count for absolutely nothing”. Although thanks to DOMA, this is currently the case with my marriage as well…)

  4. Disgusted Gay American says

    Welllll Wilb-eeeer, why we understand what you’re saying…you seem to want a FIGHT, or Argument from your fellow LGBT’s….cause you think you’re right, and anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong…..yes we all agree, CU are a Great start…but the termonology is NOT always recognized..where as MARRIAGE is – that is all

  5. says

    A perfectly reasoned editorial. Ted Olson has become one of the most eloquent voices on the rationality and fairness of full marriage equality. He and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman know what they are talking about.

    @Wilberforce: Your argument doesn’t stand up. CUs are not equal, for the clear reasons stated in the editorial, and because of DOMA. DOMA applies to marriage. When it is overturned, either legislatively or through the courts, its abolishment will apply to couples in marriages.

    CUs, while a step forward on the road to equality, are legally weak and open to misinterpretation. They are not equal, not any more widely accepted by the opposition than civil marriage equality, and have never been shown to be a “better strategy.” There is no rational reason not to include gay couples in civil marriage, so I’m not sure why you’re fighting against straight allies on this issue. Marriage equality protects religious freedoms as much as CUs do, so even bigots have no valid argument against it–because there is none.

  6. Barry says

    Wilbur – I’m proud to live in Washington state, and technically I have a CU, because WA decided to recognize my MARRIAGE from British Columbia. I guess I should be grateful. After all, it could be worse, yes? Funny, ‘tho, that my employer still considers me “single”, my insurance company still considers me “single”, my mortgage company considers my husband and I to be “tennants in common”… So no, asshat, CUs are NOT the equiv of marriage. I won’t even go into the separate but equal” argument, because they are NOT equal.

  7. says

    Thanks Barry, for the name calling. I was worried that the old time, low class queen venom had gone out of style. Good to know the gay mainstream still can’t discuss an issue without turning vicious.

  8. says

    @Wilburforce: Barry’s main point is that, in his personal experience, his CU in WA, unlike your claims, is not the equivalent of marriage. It’s a valid discussion of the issue, one you ignored in an effort to call him names for calling you names–a waste of time.

    Those of us who believe we deserve to be first class citizens are not willing to say CUs are A-OK; they aren’t. They certainly do not equal marriage. And, whatever name-calling may get tossed around, it doesn’t change the fact that there is no rational reason for anyone, particularly gay people, to object to marriage equality unless you believe the US is a theocracy and are willing to cede control of marriage to the church.

  9. tom beebe says

    Let’s start with an answer to the question: what is marriage, a legal or a religious institution? If the former, than equal justice under law demands that it, with all its privileges and responsibilities, be available to all. If the latter, then no laws should apply, except those of the churches involved. Choose! The present system is as ambiguous as DADT.

  10. says

    “The present system is as ambiguous as DADT.”

    It’s only ambiguous to those who wish to make it so. Marriage is not a religious institution, it is a civil institution. The benefits and protections of marriage are all governmental. There is no religious requirement for straight couples to marry. The church’s role is to sanction, through religious ceremony, those marriages (straight or gay) they wish to sanction. Marriage equality does not infringe on the religious freedom to pick and choose which marriages to sanction. Likewise, since we don’t live in a theocracy, the church should have no role in determining which marriages the government determines are legal.

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