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The Author believes that civil unions have become synonymous with inequality. In this posture, the term inequality should be descriptive rather than subjective. She argues that civil unions relegate gay and lesbian couples to second-class status. However characterized or defined, civil unions are not marriages. Those two statuses are not equivalent; they are not equal. Within that framework, in order for any one person to decide where he or she stands on the issue of whether gay and lesbian couples should be entitled to marriage, civil unions, something else, or nothing, he or she must first understand why marriage matters to families and how the Goodridge case and others fit into the civil rights struggle to create equality for gays and lesbians as well as into other civil rights struggles. Section II of this Article describes several examples of how the exclusion from marriage has harmed families, and, therefore, why it matters to people, gay and non-gay alike. Section III describes the history of marriage as it has evolved for same-sex couples and its relationship to other civil rights struggles. Section IV describes the Goodridge case, its outcome, and aftermath. Finally, Section V takes up the question of whether civil unions are a legitimate station on the way to marriage rights or a misguided departure in a struggle for equality and concludes that civil unions are an unacceptable alternative.


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Recommended Citation

13 Widener L.J. 831 (2004)