To deny gays and lesbians the ability to register any sort of civil union with the appropriate state authorities — notice I didn’t say marriage necessarily — because of the fear that this policy will weaken heterosexual marriage is to use gays and lesbians as means to an end rather than treating them as ends in and of themselves as fellow citizens. That is, to deny them some kind of standard-form contract to order their affairs as couples, even though the marriage standard-form contract is offered by the states to heterosexual couples in part to accomplish that end (I know the purpose goes beyond that, but it includes that, obviously), is to suggest that their practical needs and personal wishes are to be set aside for the sake of a general societal good.

In a free society, I would argue, that is simply wrong. Whether a large or small number of gays and lesbians ever get civil unionized is, on this point, irrelevant. Some number would evidently like to do so to address some practical problems of ownership, inheritance, visitation, parental rights, etc, and some of these inevitably deal with public institutions. BTW, I don’t think it is at all feasible, even if it were wise, to separate the state from these issues altogether at this point in American history. We have hundreds of years of common law and many thousands of statutes that assume state-sanctioned marriages and base policies and decisions on them.

The argument is that to expect gays and lesbians to have to bear the cost of addressing all of these complex issues through lawyers and individual contracts, when other citizens have recourse to simple rules and standard-form contracts, is unjust.

See, you sucked me into yet another post on this issue. Shame on you!