My understanding is that gay rights groups want to have the same benefits that are afforded to opposite marriage supporters. Opposite marriage supporters, for the most part, don't want the term "marriage" applied to these civil unions.

What are the objections to allowing civil unions to be recognized nationally, regardless of the number of individuals, their sex, or their familial relationship? (isn't there something all sides can agree with?)


4 Answers 4


One argument sometimes made against federally recognized civil unions by anti-gay-marriage side is actually purely political.

They worry (leaving aside whether rightly or wrongly) that this is simply a first step towards full legalization of same sex marriage, which they oppose, even if they had no problem with providing equal rights per se. In essence, they worry that the side advocating same sex marriage will pretend to agree to the "civil union" compromise, but push till full recognition once that's achieved (which would be much easier of a step at that point).

This is comparable to other concerns over previous political compromises between conservatives and progressives, such as balancing the budget (e.g. one side agrees on raising taxes in exchange for drop in spending... lo and behold, a bit later, the spending is either never dropped, or raised back, while taxes are already permanently raised); or immigration (where allowing amnesty during Reagan time was supposed to be countered with border security... amnesty was granted, border security never happened).

To put it in Middle Eastern political terms, in their experience they expected peace, but got a hudna - which is a temporary ceasefire explicitly aimed with one side (or both) intending to continue the conflict once the ceasefire ends. Strategically, that makes people more resistant to compromise and deal-making.

  • 1
    aka "Slippery Slope" Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 23:31
  • 2
    @AffableGeek - Slippery slope is somewhat different, though related. Slippery slope is more of a philosophical consideration (e.g. "if you let 2 guys marry, why not 3 guys and 5 girls?"); this one is 100% about political tactics.
    – user4012
    Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 12:18

The main objection that I know is that if homosexuality is either unnatural or morally wrong, then it doesn't deserve any kind of accommodation in the political sphere.

I know "morally wrong" is a huge can of worms, but people make those sorts of distinctions in politics all the time. Policy endorses one man and one woman, but has decided that one man and three women is no good. The man and the woman can't be brother and sister (it doesn't matter if they don't want to reproduce or if they really love each other or anything like that...incest is illegal in 49 of 50 states in the US), and they both have to be consenting adults.

The basis of one's morality at the political table is, again, a huge can of worms, but those who object to civil unions do so because they believe that they are wrong.

Here's an article for some further reading on the subject. It talks about why the author believes that the issue of homosexuality has little to do with the civil rights movement and intermarriage conflicts.

  • How does this square with polling data? Gallup and other polls have +20 pt difference.
    – user1873
    Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 12:24
  • @user1873 - there are many different reasons for opposition. They aren't broken out in the polls at all, just yes/no
    – user4012
    Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 12:29

One objection is that it is useless because the generic civil law allows for a contract that would bring nearly all the same legal consequences as the proposed "civil union", for instance, common possession of property, inheritance etc. Normal marriage usually also regulates the relationship with children, but there could be no children in a gay relationship.

  • 1
    As there can be children in a gay relationship, I'm a bit confused by this answer.
    – user1530
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 16:02

The problem is that there's no free dinner and someone pays for those benefits (see http://www.expatica.com/de/finance_business/tax/-Tax-saving-possibilities-for-employees-in-Germany_17099.html for example). This is accepted because those benefits have their purpose - in the case of the marriages it is the help for the families, which are supposed to raise children.

When it's going about the adoption of children, the people are afraid that it could be the disadvantage for children to grow up in homosexual marriages as compared to heterosexual ones. The problem is quite new and there are no long-term studies yet (defining long-term as generations, not years).

Of course those are arguments from people accepting civil unions as such. I don't speak about arguments totally negating any single-sex relationsships.

  • Could use some citations here. Particularly when talking about the cost of benefits - obviously there's a potential tax hit, but I'm not clear on what that is, and considerably less clear on the potential cost for things like HIPAA compliance or property law.
    – Shog9
    Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 20:18
  • 1
    @Shog9 - more interestingly, most of the people who insist on same-sex marriage seem (at least when discussing with me) insist that it is needed because of non-financial benefits (e.g., right to visit at a hospital, or notification by the military in case of death are the usual arguments). I'm unsure whether there is actually a meaningful financial burden being claimed by either side, at least this is the first time I hear that as an argument on federal level.
    – user4012
    Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 22:45
  • @DVK I first hear the term non-financial benefits, so the question itself isn't clear what the author means. Commented Dec 21, 2012 at 6:44
  • @Shog9. There certainly are some important tax implications.
    – TRiG
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 18:54
  • 1
    @TRiG: estate taxes? Hmm. Is there really that much money changing hands, or is it more of a concern that this would be co-opted more broadly as a general-purpose tax loophole? If you can find some numbers on that, post an answer.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 19:03

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .