12/22/2008

Supporting Separate But Equal?

Separate but equal?Image by Mushroom Photography via FlickrThe Tucson Citizen reports that Gino Meriano, owner of Pink Weddings and an organizer of civil union pushes in the UK has arrived in Arizona to push for a Civil Union law here in the face of the passage of Prop 102 this year.

Equality Arizona has been critical of the effort noting that since all laws refer to "marriage" in their text that Civil Unions would be ineffective and not provide the necessary protections for LGBT unions.

Honestly, I don't know how I feel about this yet. My gut reaction remains that separate is inherently unequal and the "Civil Unions" are nothing more than a "feel good" crumb to make us shut up.

Yet, another part of me wonders if at least a baby step would not be some step toward full equality. However, the problem then becomes one of complacency. If we have a "Civil Union" will the Uncle Tom gays be content to stop fighting? Will our straight allies assume that all is well and then stop working with us on full equality?

Still, as long as the federal government remains silent on marriage equality even full marriage at the state level remains fairly meaningless outside individual communities.

Should Prop 8 be overturned in California, Michael and I could travel to California to be married. Yet, the moment we crossed the border back into Arizona it would not be worth the paper upon which it is printed. For LGBT married couples from Massachusetts and Connecticut their marriages are dissolved the moment they leave their respective states. If you are married in Massachusetts and happen to be in South Carolina for some reason your marriage doesn't exist until you return to Massachusetts. There is no recognition of the "Full Faith and Credit Clause" of the Constitution when it comes to our rights. We are always at the mercy of state legislatures and the religious bigots who pull their strings.

So, what about Meriano and his Civil Union proposal? Do I support his efforts which, with the right amount of money might have a slim chance of passing someday or do I remain committed to the idea of full equal rights in Arizona, thus adding one more state to those where our rights are protected?

It's a tough question. Civil Unions would be much more than I could ever hope for being from South Carolina, but at the same time it still strikes me as insulting with the potential to create more problems than solutions.

After all, Mr. Meriano's business is arranging "commitment ceremonies" so he has a vested financial interest in getting some type of law on the books whether it be a real solution to our problems or just a "feel good" measure to spur his business.

This will bear watching.

Story in The Tucson Citizen. (Thanks to Queerty for covering this as well.)


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