Civil Unions

To the Editor: I am a gay Californian in a 17-year domestic partnership (DP) with two children. I came across the Addison Eagle newspaper recently and wanted you to consider my letter. Californias DP law is nearly identical to Vermonts civil union (CU) law. Both say DP/CU shall have all the same benefits, protections and responsibilities under law, whether they derive from statute, administrative or court rule, policy, common law or any other source of civil law, as are granted to spouses in a marriage. ( Vermont TITLE 15, Domestic Relations CHAPTER 23. CIVIL UNIONS 1204. (a) ) Vermont Freedom to Marrys web site states social security survivor benefits comes with marriage implying that the 1138 federal benefits of marriage would be available to Vermonter if the title, civil unions, was changed to marriage. This is incorrect. Massachusetts's same-sex marriage (SSM), California's DP, and Vermont's CU all have the same federal benefits of marriage: zero. Inappropriate implementation of Vermonts CU law would not be solved by changing the title to marriage. Lesbians and gay men in Massachusetts report problems with implementation of SSM ( Gay & Lesbian Review 5/2007 page 6, Marriage Equality Not a Reality in Mass. by Dale Mitchell, cofounder, LGBT Aging Project, Boston, Mass.) Massachusetts' legislature is plugging holes because SSM is new. Comprehensive new policies have bumps along the road to implementation. CU/DP laws give same-sex couples equality before the law. Give these laws time to work before demanding the title change which, it appears, will not change the substance. Leland Traiman
Alameda, Calif.

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