Over six installments (see the end of this post for links to each) I've pursued the issue of what the six Democrats seeking the nation's highest office are NOT saying when they reject same-sex marriage but say they're all for civil unions. So far as I can tell after an admittedly limited review, all of the current crop of Republican candidates, with the exception of Ron Paul and Rudy Guliani are solidly against them . Paul begrudgingly seems to feel state legislatures ought to be able to pass them; Rudy once fully fully supported them but after becoming a POTUS candidate has pulled back to some more restricted set of rights and benefits.
So, for all candidates saying they're all for civil unions, if I were a reporter or moderator of a debate, here are some sample questions I'd ask them to flush out what they would do if POTUS and how well they understand the issues involved:
1. As President, what would you do specifically to assure that same-sex couples across the nation are able to enter into civil unions, and that their relationship and the legal rights, benefits, and obligations civil unions bestow would be available to them throughout the United States and also fully recognized by the federal government?
Come to think of it, maybe I'd stop there and evaluate the "deer in the headlights" look from most, if not all of them that question seems likely to produce. But continue with me over the jump anyway.
If you haven't picked up on why that question might pose some fancy footwork by the candidates in responding, you may want to read or re-read my last post on problems with civil unions, as I won't be repeating them here.
Maybe I'd go on to ask (or replace Question 1) with one or more of the following:
2. When you say you support civil unions but not same sex marriage, how would you deal with the legal differences between them, including the lack of civil union portability from state to state?
3. What impact, if any, do you think the repeal of DOMA would have on civil unions? Would it be the same as the effect of the repeal of DOMA would have on marriage, and if not, why not?
4. Please give us some quick summary of how much time and study you have made concerning the nature of civil unions, any differences from marriage, issues concerning portability from state-to-state, and anything else you would like to tell us to convince us that your knowledge and understanding of all the aspects of civil unions is sufficient enough for us support your candidacy or otherwise think you care enough about the subject to find out?
Are these questions beginning to sound like I've become a bit more cynical about "I support civil unions but not same-sex marriage"?
If so, you're very perceptive. Whether or not the above questions or anything like them will ever be asked or answered in the future remains to be seen. I'm not holding my breath.
( If you've missed one or more previous items in this string of articles on marriage versus civil unions and the race for POTUS nomination, they are here, here, here, here, and here.)