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April 26, 2009

Geoffrey Stone on civil unions

U of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone writes in today's Chicago Tribune about the civil unions bill pending in the Illinois legislature.  Stone first notes the strong support for such a measure.  Recent polls, he writes, show that Americans favor civil unions by 60 to 34 percent.

There has been a transformation in our thinking on this issue over the past half-century. What would once have been regarded as nothing short of weird now seems perfectly sensible. This is the American story. It is, in part, what makes us great. Over time, we have gradually recognized the common humanity of blacks, women, Hispanics, Asians, Jews, Catholics and gays, all of whom have been the victims of cruel discrimination.

Stone calls legal recognition of civil unions (as opposed to full marriage) "a compromise, but it is a reasonable compromise at this time in our history."  He also neatly dispatches objections by those who have been asserting, with increasing stridency, that equality for gays and lesbians violates their religious liberty: "The problem, though, is that in a society that values the separation of church and state, religious doctrine cannot be the source of our secular law.... It is not a violation of religious liberty for the state not to impose one group's religious beliefs on other citizens who do not share them."

-SS

April 26, 2009 | Permalink

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