Many people:both gay and straight:think that same-sex couples should settle for civil unions or domestic partnerships and shouldn’t bother fighting for marriage. After all, if you already have all of the rights and obligations of marriage, what’s so important about calling your legal relationship a civil union or a domestic partnership rather than a marriage?
Evidencing the real importance of the name given to same-sex legal relationships, Lambda Legal recently announced that, following the enactment of New Jersey’s civil union regime, UPS drew an important distinction between its employees who had entered into same-sex marriages in Massachusetts and those who had entered into civil unions in New Jersey: The Massachusetts employees were allowed to add their spouses to their health coverage, but the New Jersey employees were not allowed to do so. The reason:according to UPS, the Massachusetts couples were legal”spouses”because they were”married,”but the New Jersey couples were not legal”spouses”because they were not”married,”just parties to a civil union. Naturally, this distinction will entail serious financial and medical consequences for UPS’ lesbian and gay employees in New Jersey.
So, those who think that the word”marriage”doesn’t matter should think again.
-Anthony C. Infanti