Access your downloads at our archive site. Visit Archive

Civil Unions: The Answer to Gay Marriages?

On November 18, 2003 the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts dictated an order to the state legislature to enact law extending marriage rights to homosexuals. The court gave the legislature 180 days to comply.

Lee Duigon
  • Lee Duigon,
Share this

When President Bush, in a national television interview with Diane Sawyer, said he was open to the idea of “individual states” offering various “alternatives” to homosexual marriage, although he himself believes marriage is between a man and a woman, period.

Why was the president asked this? Because on November 18, 2003 the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts dictated an order to the state legislature to enact law extending marriage rights to homosexuals. The court gave the legislature 180 days to comply.

The Massachusetts Senate has drafted a law granting civil unions to homosexuals and submitted it to the court for its approval.

“They hope this plan will satisfy the court,” said Evelyn Reilly of the Massachusetts Family Policy Institute. “If the court says no, then civil union is off the table. We think the court might reject it on the grounds that civil unions are not transportable to other states.

“I hope the court does reject it. Civil union is not the answer.”

What's the Difference?

What exactly is a homosexual civil union, and how does it differ from legal marriage?

So far we have only one source for an answer, a remarkable document, Vermont 's Civil Union law of 2000, the only one of its kind in the United States . A copy of the law is available via the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force website:

Temporarily setting aside the built-in absurdities of the law, a thorough reading will reveal only three small differences between a civil union and a marriage.

  1. The law does not require churches to give their blessing to civil unions or to recognize them. (However, the language used throughout the law makes it clear that its authors want civil unions, as far as possible, to be “the same” as marriage and therefore equal.)
  2. Homosexuals in civil unions have less access to coverage, such as family medical insurance, than they would in a legal marriage.
  3. Because federal law does not recognize civil unions, some federal legal protections to married couples do not extend to those in civil unions.

The law also contains statements ranging from the merely amusing to the preposterous, such as:

  • “The state has a strong interest in promoting stable and lasting families, including families based upon a same-sex couple.”
  • “Despite longstanding social and economic discrimination, many gay and lesbian Vermonters have formed lasting, committed, caring, and faithful relationships with persons of their same sex.” [Oh, really? How many? Who did the counting?]
  • Homosexuals already in one civil union shall “not be a party to another civil union or a marriage.” [We wouldn't want homosexuals to be guilty of bigamy; that would be immoral.]
  • “[A] person shall not enter a civil union with a relative.” [We wouldn't want homosexuals to practice incest. That would be wrong. Go figure.]

They will have their little jokes. Meanwhile, it's clear that the legal difference between marriage and civil unions is very slight.

Half a Loaf

Some would see the establishment of civil unions as a defeat for the gay rights agenda, said Glen Lavy of the Alliance Defense Fund.

“The gays want the label, ‘marriage,' which would put them on a par with married heterosexual couples,” he said. “Civil unions don't carry the same level of societal approval as marriage. If they got civil unions, they'd have lost what they're really after. Civil unions is a loss for them.”

“But,” he added, “from our perspective, it's a loss for us, too. It's still a big step, incrementally, toward their goal of gay marriage.”

The Netherlands established civil unions first, and after five years, legalized homosexual “marriages.”

“The fact that the law puts same-sex couples in a different legal category from heterosexual couples reinforces just how far we have to go before we reach a place of genuine legal equality with our heterosexual neighbors,” says the article accompanying the law on the Vermont Freedom to Marry website. Radical homosexuals will accept civil unions as half a loaf, but will not stop agitating until they get “gay marriage.” The article concludes, “The Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force represents a coalition of individuals and associations in Vermont who support the freedom for same-gender couples to enter into civil marriages,” and to that end, requests financial contributions.

The text of the law states more than once that civil marriage in Vermont still consists of a union between a man and a woman. Obviously the Task Force doesn't view that as permanent.

“Their ultimate goal is to get rid of any societal recognition of a proper kind of sexual relationship,” Glen Lavy said.

Can We Stop It?

“We're committed to defending traditional marriage,” said Gene Kapp, with the American Center for Law and Justice. “We're working in Massachusetts now, exploring the legal options.

“There is some sentiment among Massachusetts legislators to opt for civil unions, but there's also some sentiment to defy the court altogether.”

Can the legislature or the governor defy the court?

“We want them to tell the court to take a hike, but they don't have the guts,” Evelyn Reilly said. “We're holding meetings, working with them, reminding them that they're co-equal branches of government. They don't have to submit to the court.”

The Alliance Defense Fund is an organization of constitutional attorneys dealing with religious freedom, family values, and right to life cases. These constitutional lawyers, Lavy said, believe the legislature and governor can legally and successfully defy the court.

“We have three co-equal branches of government,” he said. “Together, the executive and legislative branches can trump the court.

“There's historical precedent. When Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, he was defying the U. S. Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision of 1858, which ruled that slaves were property. Emancipation, strictly speaking, wasn't legal.”

“We have to stop gay marriage, and civil unions, too,” he said. “We must not give recognition to any relationships other than a married man and woman because those relationships are not the equivalent of marriage.”

“It's hard to explain to some people that the gay marriage argument simply isn't true,” Reilly said. “If they don't understand that homosexuality is not genetic and unchangeable, they just think you're being mean.

“The gay agenda is based entirely on misrepresentation and falsehood. The government should not be condoning, encouraging, and subsidizing behavior that kills people.”

How can Massachusetts (and other states, when their time comes) stop its top court from imposing “gay marriage” on its people?

  • “We need state and federal defense of marriage amendments,” Lavy said. “A U. S. Constitutional Amendment would stop the courts from trying to redefine marriage.”
  • “We're working on a constitutional amendment in Massachusetts to require that judges be elected by the people,” Reilly said. “That'll make the judges more accountable.”
  • Finally, she added, the legislature could simply refuse to act on the court's dictate.

“What if they don't submit a gay marriage law?” she asked. “How is the court going to make them do it? There's no existing mechanism for that.”


America doesn't need to bring in the Trojan Horse of civil unions to avoid being saddled with homosexual marriage.

Will we ever learn that the Irreligious Left always begins by taking incremental gains and never stops until they've taken the whole loaf? They got prayer and Bible reading banned from the public schools in the 1960s and parleyed it into today's full-scale government assault on Christianity. And remember when legalized abortion was just supposed to be a seldom-used emergency medical procedure to help poor, desperate women?

Don't give them an inch unless you're ready to give them the whole yard.

All we need, until we can get a constitutional amendment protecting marriage, is for our elected representatives to hold their ground and refuse to translate insane court rulings into law. There really is no way the courts can make them comply.

And we, the voters, must strongly insist on this. Comply with our wishes, or we'll vote you out.

Lee Duigon
  • Lee Duigon

Lee is the author of the Bell Mountain Series of novels and a contributing editor for our Faith for All of Life magazine. Lee provides commentary on cultural trends and relevant issues to Christians, along with providing cogent book and media reviews.

Lee has his own blog at

More by Lee Duigon