It’s official – couples in civil unions are second-class citizens. In a widely-expected move that will give ammo to marriage equality advocates in states with civil unions laws, the federal government limited benefits of marriage to legally married couples. Think Progress reports:
The White House Office of Personnel Management released a series of memos dealing with different benefits for federal employees and explicitly made clear that only same-sex couples who are legally married can access them — not those in civil unions. Some benefits for domestic partnerships will remain intact, but same-sex couples in such partnerships or in civil unions “will remain ineligible for most Federal benefits programs.” Four states continue to offer civil unions: Hawaii, Colorado, Illinois, and New Jersey (Rhode Island’s civil unions will end August 1 when the marriage equality law takes effect). Though Colorado would require a constitutional amendment to upgrade civil unions to marriages, the decision has a profound impact on legislative efforts in the other three states.
We already have a lawsuit in New Jersey and a pending bill in Illinois – is Hawaii likely to be targeted next?