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Toward a More Perfect Union: The Road to Marriage Equality for Same-Sex Couples

28 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2012  

Jennifer Levi

Western New England University School of Law

Date Written: 2004

Abstract

The Author believes that civil unions have become synonymous with inequality. In this posture, the term inequality should be descriptive rather than subjective. She argues that civil unions relegate gay and lesbian couples to second-class status. However characterized or defined, civil unions are not marriages. Those two statuses are not equivalent; they are not equal. Within that framework, in order for any one person to decide where he or she stands on the issue of whether gay and lesbian couples should be entitled to marriage, civil unions, something else, or nothing, he or she must first understand why marriage matters to families and how the Goodridge case and others fit into the civil rights struggle to create equality for gays and lesbians as well as into other civil rights struggles. Section II of this Article describes several examples of how the exclusion from marriage has harmed families, and, therefore, why it matters to people, gay and non-gay alike. Section III describes the history of marriage as it has evolved for same-sex couples and its relationship to other civil rights struggles. Section IV describes the Goodridge case, its outcome, and aftermath. Finally, Section V takes up the question of whether civil unions are a legitimate station on the way to marriage rights or a misguided departure in a struggle for equality and concludes that civil unions are an unacceptable alternative.

Keywords: civil unions, same-sex couples, same-sex marriage, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, GLAD

Suggested Citation

Levi, Jennifer, Toward a More Perfect Union: The Road to Marriage Equality for Same-Sex Couples (2004). Widener Law Journal, Vol. 13, p. 831, 2004; Western New England University School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2000264

Jennifer Levi (Contact Author)

Western New England University School of Law ( email )

1215 Wilbraham Road
Springfield, MA 01119
United States

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