Civil unions and domestic partnerships are taking a beating lately, aren't they? First UPS refuses to recognize New Jersey's civil unions as equal to marriage when it comes time to give insurance benefits to their same-sex employees. NJ Governor John Corzine has even intervened to attempt to sway the shipping company to honor the civil unions law.
But what's this story out of California? A judge has ordered a man to continue paying alimony to his ex-wife even though she has registered with her lesbian partner as a domestic partnership, California's answer to same-sex marriage. After all, the ex-wife isn't "married..."
California marriage laws say alimony ends when a former spouse remarries, and Ron Garber thought that meant he was off the hook when he learned his ex-wife had registered her new relationship under the state's domestic partnership law.
An Orange County judge didn't see it that way.
The judge ruled that a registered partnership is cohabitation, not marriage, and that Garber must keep writing the checks, $1,250 a month, to his ex-wife, Melinda Kirkwood. Gerber plans to appeal.
The case highlights questions about the legal status of domestic partnerships, an issue the California Supreme Court is weighing as it considers whether same-sex marriage is legal. An appeals court upheld the state's ban on same-sex marriage last year, citing the state's domestic partners law and ruling that it was up to the Legislature to decide whether gays could wed.
Lawyers arguing in favor of same-sex marriage say they will cite the June ruling in the Orange County case as a reason to unite gay and heterosexual couples under one system: marriage.
It is amusing to me to watch as various states try to grapple with the harsh reality that separate is not equal. As the Democratic presidential candidates wallow in the morass that is civil unions and domestic partnership laws, can it not be shown any more clearly that they are simply unworkable? I would at least have an iota of respect for the candidate who stood up and said, "Civil unions for all - marriage in the church." Unfortunately, it doesn't seem as if anyone of the major players are even willing to float the idea for discussion. Pathetic.