Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Why a Marriage Means More than a Civil Union

Dickensen and Sugg, partners for 30 years, were denied spousal benefits from AT&T. (Photo from the Dallas Voice)

Someone recently asked me, “Why isn’t a civil union good enough?”

Besides the fact that legal precedent has thrown out the notion of “separate but equal” decades ago (and despite that fact that racism, prejudice and xenophobia persist–but in more subtle, institutionalized forms), a quick comparison of the concrete rights granted by marriage are extensive. It’s not a religious issue or fodder for the culture wars–it’s about basic human rights like tax breaks, adoption rights, and access to medical decisions for the one that you love.

In the case of Bryan Dickenson and Bill Suggs, partnered but unmarried men in Dallas, the marriage rights afforded to a heterosexual spouse were denied by Dickenson’s employer, AT&T. Under the provisions of the Family Medical Leave Act, Dickenson requested vacation time to care for his ailing partner of 30 years. Suggs suffered from a stroke last fall.

Let’s hope that AT&T, recently listed as one of the most gay-friendly companies by the Human Rights Campaign, does the right thing.

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Filed under: gay rights, , , , ,

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About Me

Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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