Against the Civil Unions Debate


Civil Unions Not the Answer

There is has been quite a lot commentary about same-sex marriage and the suitability of Civil Unions as a valid, easier-to-obtain alternative.  Unfortunately, Civil Unions are not the answer:

  1.  A Minnesota Civil Union is worthless outside the state of Minnesota.  No other state or country has any obligation to honor a civil construct specific to our state. Same-sex couples, “civil-unioned” or married elsewhere, who move to Minnesota would have to be “civil-unioned” again.
  2. A Minnesota Civil Union is worthless to the Federal Government.  Should the Supreme Court strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act or Congress repeal it, ONLY MARRIED same-sex couples across the country would have all the Federal marriage rights and privileges available to them.
  3. Separating civil unions from full, same-sex marriage opens the door for current and future discrimination against same-sex couples as it would be very easy to restrict or expand rights based on the type of arrangement you have.  Separate but equal has never proven to be true.

For those who feel that civil unions are an option, especially those who may have standing within the Minnesota Republican Party, I strongly urge you to stop appeasing same-sex marriage opponents and instead engage them in conversation about how same-sex marriage supports basic Republican values:  keeping government small and out of citizen’s lives and promoting a positive business environment. This marriage debate is about the rights and responsibilities afforded couples by the state, not the church – do not let our conservative brothers and sisters off the hook with claims of religious infringement.

A Discussion Versus A Campaign

Throughout the Civil Unions debate many people have expressed regret that within our community we seem unwilling to have a discussion about the issue, many of us attacking those who wish to start a conversation.  I purport that there is a difference between a discussion and what appears to be a campaign.  A discussion is a civil dialogue between two opposing views, each presenting their facts with the goal to allow those who observe the dialogue to draw their own conclusions.  A campaign is a series of orchestrated events with the specific intent to drive a particular outcome.

United We Stand…

In other states, dissension within the LGBT community has led to defeat.  Prop 8, some say, was lost in California because the community couldn’t come together around a single strategy.  In Minnesota, we did successfully rally together to defeat the anti-marriage amendment in November.  Now we need to come together again to win full same-sex marriage equality this spring.  We are a family, my LGBT siblings, and we can squabble and fight and pout all we want at home but when we step out into the public spotlight we need to smile, hold hands and get along – after all it’s in our Minnesotan DNA.

What You Can Do Now

Despite all the satisfaction writing a pithy Facebook post can bring, channel your anger, your frustration, and your energy to prove those Civil Unioners wrong by helping us WIN full marriage equality.  Here’s how:

SPEAK UP:  Making our voices heard in the halls and offices of the state capitol is how we win.  Call your state senators and representatives and get them to support HF1054(House) and SF925(Senate). If they pledge their support, ask them to have conversations with their fence-sitting and opposition colleagues.  Call your family and friends who may live in uncommitted or not supportive legislative districts and encourage them to call or email their lawmakers.

Final Thought

Courage is required for anything worth achieving.  Typically it is the courage to speak up, shout out, and stand your ground.  But sometimes courage comes in another form:  letting go of your own convictions for the good of the community.  Now is our time – united we stand.


About me:  My name is Steve Pospisil.  While I am a 10 year volunteer with the Human Rights Campaign and member of their national Board of Governors, my opinions are expressed solely as a concerned gay citizen of Minnesota. 

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