The Illinois legislature has passed a bill legalizing civil unions. Those civil unions bring all the benefits of marriage (except the term “marriage”) to same–sex couples. The bill includes provisions for the recognition of out–of–state same–sex couples. The governor of that state is expected to sign the bill.
I’m torn about this. On one hand, it provides the benefits of marriage to all couples. On the other hand, (quoting Dale Carpenter from the Volokh Conspiracy, my emphasis):
…There are a couple of noteworthy provisions in the bill. First, the new status is available to opposite-sex spouses who choose not to marry. This makes the Illinois law different from other civil-union laws, like the ones in California, Oregon, and New Jersey, which generally make the equivalent status available only to same-sex couples on the theory that opposite-sex couples can marry….
This is why same–sex marriage is good for different–sex marriage. The provisions in the law provide an alternative to marriage for different–sex couples. By providing competitors to marriage, it will reduce the number of marriages. Clearly, it is socons who are threatening marriage. Had marriage equality simply been allowed none of this would be necessary.
And for the record, I think that both civil unions and marriage should be available to couples.