Four states in the U.S. have legalized gay marriage so far. If it wasn’t for Proposition 8 in California, they would be five. At least two other states, New York and New Jersey, are expected to legalize the rights of homosexual couples to marry, and I can’t see what’s wrong with that.
Surprisingly, more than half of the American people are still against same-sex marriages. We have heard the reasons against such marriages a lot of times: God created man and woman; God hates homosexuals; it’s against Mother Nature; it’s a perversion to humanity; those people are ill and therefore they need to go to a doctor who will find solution to their problem.
The people who are against gay marriages have either failed to, or wouldn’t like to, look at reality. And those of them who are fine with civil unions but are against gay marriages are, to me, the most confused of all. The law says that by civil union a couple is granted the same state benefits, civil rights and protection as a married couple. For example, the Common Benefits Clause of the Vermont Constitution guarantees them to same-sex couples (Baker v. State, 744 A.2d 864 (Vt. 1999)).
Meanwhile, civil unions don’t include a lot of the advantages that are granted to the heterosexual couples such as joint parental rights to, or adoption of, children, hospital visits “next-to-kin”, credit protection, joint housing for elderly and others.
It appears that civil unions are a certain way to find a compromise between the homosexuals’ demands and anti-gay activists. They are definitely not a solution to the problem, but have served as a certain form of relief to both sides. After so many years of denying rights to the homosexuals to marry, it is impossible to believe that civil unions are not a way to changing a society’s perceptions of an institution such as marriage.
I expect, and I hope, that the next states to legalize same-sex marriages will be New York, New Jersey and California. The latter already did it last summer but after Californians voted for Proposition 8 they were outlawed again. The gubernatorial elections next year could make turn out to be crucial, especially if San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is the winner.
Meanwhile, New York and New Jersey legislators have started to talk about that matter, especially the New Jersey ones. Some employers in the state of New Jersey are not sure what civil union means although N.J.S.A. 37:1-31 clearly states rights of a couple that’s in a civil union: that they have all the same benefits, protections and responsibility under [any form of] law as are granted to spouses in a marriage (Section 27:5 ,Rights and responsibilities of civil union couples). N.J.S.A. 37:1-31 even allows same-sex couples same rights as married couples with respect to a child.
Are the U.S. turning into a more reasonable nation? With the trend of more states legalizing same-sex marriages, and thus providing equal rights to people who don’t do any harm to society, my answer is yes. There is still much work to be done on this matter but my expectations are that with the change in generations everything will gradually be put in order.