Separate But Equal? Why Civil Unions Aren’t Enough
Separate but equal? This phrase rings out from history, right? The phrase “separate but equal” brings up memories of the civil rights movement. Separate bathrooms, water fountains and seats in the rear of buses. Separate but equal, where it looks like everyone was treated the same, but discrimination was still enforced by this simple statement.
It’s a good thing that the American society has moved past this, right? We live in the 21st century where we don’t have to think about such ideas like “separate but equal”. Well, unfortunately, the idea of separate but equal is not only still around, it is so engrained in the American society that the LGBT community is being told to be thankful for it.
Separate but equal has taken on a slightly different form than 50 years ago. The LGBT community doesn’t have separate bathrooms or water fountains, but are actively being discriminated against. The discrimination that so clearly demonstrates separate but equal is the idea behind Civil Unions. Currently 10 states have civil union laws while 4 states have Domestic Partnership laws.
Civil Unions are offered by certain states allowing LGBT people to enter in a legal contract and are given almost the same rights as those who are allowed to enter into a marriage. Governors of States that allow Civil Unions basically expect the LGBT community to be thankful for the “almost rights” that they are being awarded. This is the idea of “separate but equal”. In 14 states LGBT citizens are given separate rights. Special laws have been enacted to simply try and placate the LGBT community.
What the LGBT community is being told by our government is “although we don’t believe that the LGBT community is equal to us and we don’t believe they should have marriage equality, we will give you guys Civil Unions. It’s almost the same thing as marriage, so be thankful, ok?” The LGBT community should not settle for separate but equal laws. The Constitution clearly states that “all men are created equal”.
Civil Unions is the Government’s way of securing their archaic idea that LGBT citizens are not equal. States think that by allowing Civil Unions, LGBT citizens will stop pressuring them for equal rights. This is no different that what was happening in the 1960’s during the Civil Rights movement. The government wanted to appease the citizens fighting to racial equality. How did they do this? They attempted separate but equal laws. They put “colored only” bathrooms and water fountains. They let African-Americans ride the same buses as whites, but only in the back. The government gave ALMOST the same rights as those awarded to whites. What’s happening now with Civil Unions is no different.
The LGBT community should not be satisfied with Civil Unions just like during the civil rights movement, people weren’t satisfied with separate water fountains or the back of the bus. LGBT citizens are equal to anyone else in America and deserve all the same laws and rights. Civil Unions are NOT the same as marriage and should not be confused as being the same.
As an LGBT American, I am not satisfied with a Civil Union. I deserve full marriage rights because I am as equal as any heterosexual person who lives in the country. The LGBT community needs to realize that Civil Unions are simply the government trying to quiet us. Civil Unions should not quiet us, they should make us more angry. For every state that passes Civil Unions, the LGBT community and supporters should fight harder. For every Civil Union law that passed, it is one more step in solidifying inequality for the LGBT community. LGBT citizens like every citizen deserves to have exactly the same rights and laws.
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