As the Maryland legislature gets ready to vote on gay marriage and the Hawaii Senate has approved a civil union bill (which should sail through the House and signed by their new gov.), it is appropriate to consider why marriage that includes gays is important. Timothy Kincaid of Box Turtle Bulletin provides a summary.
* Civil unions are designed to make sure everyone knows gay relationships are inferior. An alternate version of the Hawaii bill says as much in its prologue.
* Civil unions rarely match marriage in terms of rights and benefits. When the issue is separate but equal the emphasis is always on separate.
* Gays are entitled to all of what society means when the word marriage is used. Case in point is a Navy Vietnam veteran who wanted his ashes to be interred at the Naval Academy. The Academy didn't know what to make of the guy who made the request. But when an Iowa marriage certificate was produced the deceased's husband was given all honors as next-of-kin.
* The average citizen doesn't know what is meant by civil union, civil partnership, domestic partnership, limited domestic partnership, registered partnership, life partnership, or reciprocal benefits, some of the terms used around the world. That's if any of them are available. It doesn't help the definition is whatever the government wants it to be. Ireland just approved a civil union law and in it they spelled out that gay marriages from other countries become civil unions in Ireland. But if you have a domestic partnership from Nevada or a civil union from Uruguay, sorry, but that doesn't translate in Ireland.