Marriages vs. Civil Unions

Reply Tue 7 Apr, 2009 01:44 pm
This is not a question about the morality of same-sex marriages; there are already other threads where that is being discussed. This is a question about the legal ramifications, and I'm hoping some of you who are knowledgeable about the law might be able to clarify something for me.

As I understand it, one of the differences between marriage and civil unions is that the legal statuses and categories conferred by marriage are recognized in all states, whereas the statuses and categories conferred by civil unions are recognized only within the state in which the civil union was enacted. For example, marriage establishes kinship between the partners involved, and that kinship is recognized even outside the state where the partners were married. By contrast, civil unions (in those states where such a thing exists) establish a kinship that is recognized within the state in which it was enacted but is not necessarily recognized in other states.

My first question is whether the above description is accurate. My second question is this: now that four states have granted same-sex couples the right of marriage, does this mean that the legal statuses and categories conferred by a same-sex marriage in one of those states will be recognized in another of those states? If two women are married in Iowa, thereby establishing kinship with each other, will that kinship automatically be recognized in Vermont come Sept. 1?

I realize that there is little legal precedence for the events of the past few days, so maybe the finer points of the law are still being worked out. But it seems to me that if the legal statuses and categories of same-sex marriages are not transferable between the four states that allow them, then same-sex marriages are not yet different from civil unions.
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Reply Tue 7 Apr, 2009 05:08 pm
Your premise isn't accurate. I'm pretty sure civil unions and marriage are pretty much the same thing. Only states that allowed gay unions (civil or not) will be expected to recognize gay unions (civil or not).
Reply Tue 7 Apr, 2009 06:21 pm
I'm pretty sure civil unions and marriage are pretty much the same thing.

In most cases civil unions and marriages grant the same rights and privileges, so in that sense they are the same. But in marriage those rights and privileges are understood to carry from state to state, while in civil unions they are not. So in that sense they are not the same, and it is in that sense that my question arises.

In looking into this question I found this FAQ, which summarizes it like this:

Even though each state has its own laws around marriage, if someone is married in one state and moves to another, their marriage is legally recognized. For example, Oregon marriage law applies to people 17 and over. In Washington state, the couple must be 18 to wed. However, Washington will recognize the marriage of two 17 year olds from Oregon who move there. This is not the case with Civil Unions. If someone has a Civil Union in Vermont, that union is not recognized in any other state.

On the basic matter of transferability between states, marriage and civil union are not the same. (I don't claim that this site should be used as a legal authority on matters beyond that basic fact.)
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Diest TKO
Reply Tue 7 Apr, 2009 10:17 pm
Nope littlek. Not all civil unions even provide the same rights as each other.

Marriage rights Not Equal civil union A rights Not Equal civil union B rights

Otherwise, I think the premise is correct.
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Reply Thu 18 Jun, 2009 10:34 am
Civil unions and marriages are not equal. In the two states, Vermont and Conneticut where civil unions can be performed, those involved within the union will not see their union pass through state-to-state. Their union only stays viable within the state inwich it was performed. The legal ramifications are completely different. Compare marriage to "owning" and civil unions as to "renting" a place to live. If one roommate decides that she does not want to live there, she can simply "move" out without any legal or contractual ramifications. However, if someone of the party was to walk away from owning a home, their credit rate would be completely demolished and that person would be held responsible by the law for their purchase of the home.
That doesn't sound like being "pretty much the same thing" to me.

little k, I would reccomend doing some research before you decide to post your opinion in a public forum.
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