Civil Unions vs. Marriage; What’s in a label?

by Cheryl Courtney-Evans
posted Jan. 23, 2012

Okay folks, first I’m going to take a deep breath (smile) and make my “disclaimer”, ’cause I know this is going to be a very ‘provocative’ subject to many…this post is in NO way an indication that I don’t support FULL MARRIAGE EQUALITY for the Gender Non-Conforming (GNC aka LBGT) community; it is only an indication that I question the importance of the labels we use to represent our commitments to one another. That being said, let me begin…

In the last decade or so, we’ve seen an increase push for marriage equality for the GNC community; this equality is necessary for so many benefits (with of course, the drawbacks like divorce, lol) for those of us who find “the one”. Insurance costs (and benefits), tax codes, adoption, hospital responsibilities/rights, inheritance (and I imagine others I haven’t thought of) are all tied to the “institution of marriage”.

The Republicans have used this fight as a ‘wedge issue’ in cultivating the “fear/hate” of conservatives against any candidate (usually Democrat) that would support it; it was reported that gays and lesbians stayed away from the polls (or voted Republican) in the 2010 mid-term elections because they were disgruntled that Pres. Obama (although he’s said he was on board with “civil unions”) said he had not ‘evolved’ to the point of calling GNC commitments “marriage”. It is said that this action contributed to the “Republican takeover” of the House of Representatives, as well as key governorships in ‘battleground’ states (most notably recently, Wisconsin), where they then immediately began their “trouble making” ways…

Did the GNC community “cut off its nose to spite its face”? One could say they had, as there are so many other things, besides what people call our unions, that Republicans taking offices to run things (or obstruct them) can affect our lives. After all, when the economic condition is (let’s face it) FUCKED up, it affects the GNC folk every bit as much as it affects heterosexuals. If the job situation is in the toilet, we know with the discrimination we already face in the workforce, we’re going to be the last to benefit when it turns around. AND WE ALREADY KNOW FROM REPUBLICAN WORD AND DEED THAT THEY DON’T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT US ON ANY ISSUE (after all, aren’t they the ones who want to spend taxpayer money [some of it ours] on DOMA, and virtually every Republifool candidate advocates reinstatement of DADT?).

Labels! Too often we as a community are too hung up on them; I’ve known (even among ourselves) people who fall out over them. I’ve been told of a transgender man, debating with another about the fact that his “opponent” calling his reference to his significant other, his wife; his opponent had told him that to use that reference was ‘gay’ (and of course, this commitment is to be considered a heterosexual one [another label]). Sometimes I think this labeling thing is given too much importance. I have known both transgenders and gays alike, who after just a few days (maybe weeks) refer to someone that they’d just had good sex with their “husband” (without any papers or ceremony, could this be taken seriously?); is that taking the label too lightly?

I say this: IF the GNC community is PROUD and OUT, is it necessary to be recognised with the same label as our heterosexual counterparts for our established (read documented) commitments, IF we are granted ALL (AND I MEAN EVERY LAST ONE) of the rights, privileges and responsiblities that fall under the label “marriage”?

We are, by our very identification as “LGBT”,a different demographic, so what’s the need to be classified “the same”? If there are laws passed that grant us the complete roster of rights, why should we care if they’re granted under the label “civil union”, AS LONG AS WE GET THEM? Personally, although I still support “the cause” for “marriage” equality, if President Obama is willing to fight for my complete “marriage” rights under the label “civil unions”, I’m willing to go with him. First of all, it’s better than what we have, and I think his “evolution” is his own personal ‘thing’ (after all, he did order the Attorney General to stop defending DOMA, it’s the Repubs that insist on continuing); some folks’ “religious beliefs” just won’t allow them to call our unions that…so be it. I know we’ll go backwards with the Republicans; Rick Santorum says he’ll, “work to ‘de-recognise’ those gay marriages that have taken place in the states that have them”. So THEN what would we do? What would we call our unions (or ex-unions)? I say, “Fuck the label; give me the rights!


Posted on January 23, 2012, in LGBT, politics. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I understand the whole idea behind the rights, but it all honesty, that's EXACTLY why we need the labels. In laymen's terms, if you call it differently, you can treat it differently…and they WILL make the distinction. So, just call it marriage and move on. You made an argument about getting the rights and ignoring the labels… While I suppose a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, we haven't even gotten the rights yet. So, maybe the label helps in that respect alone…

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