Spotted this the other day, thought it was interesting… In France, Civil Unions Gain Favor Over Marriage. So I sat down to read it, thinking I’d see how the debate over civil unions and gay marriages was playing out in other countries.
When France created its system of civil unions in 1999, it was heralded as a revolution in gay rights, a relationship almost like marriage, but not quite. No one, though, anticipated how many couples would make use of the new law.
OK. So far so good…
Nor was it predicted that by 2009, the overwhelming majority of civil unions would be between straight couples.
Wait, what? I set the coffee cup down carefully to read the rest without further mishap:
France recognizes only “citizens,” and the country’s legal principles hold that special rights should not be accorded to particular groups or ethnicities. So civil unions, which confer most of the tax benefits and legal protections of marriage, were made available to everyone. (Marriage, on the other hand, remains restricted to heterosexuals.) But the attractiveness of civil unions to heterosexual couples was evident from the start. In 2000, just one year after the passage of the law, more than 75 percent of civil unions were signed between heterosexual couples. That trend has only strengthened since then: of the 173,045 civil unions signed in 2009, 95 percent were between heterosexual couples.
And the legal benefits from civil unions are actually pretty nice:
civil unions allow couples to file joint tax returns, exempt spouses from inheritance taxes, permit partners to share insurance policies, ease access to residency permits for foreigners and make partners responsible for each other’s debts. Concluding a civil union requires little more than a single appearance before a judicial official, and ending one is even easier.
You know, that strikes me as the civil way to do it.
Of course, I admit I find it funny that hets pretty much prefer the civil unions — and I’d wonder which way queers would jump if France made marriage available to all its citizens. There’s plenty of cases in this country as well for hets to flock to domestic partnerships and civil unions, when available to them too. Maybe they’re trying to tell us something about marriage…! 😀