Press Room

February 26, 2004

Category: Civil Unions

HRC Deeply Disappointed in Kerry’s Support of Massachusetts Constitutional Amendment

Like Many Americans, Kerry Needs Further Education on Real Legal Differences between Marriage and Civil Unions, Says HRC

WASHINGTON - Human Rights Campaign President Cheryl Jacques released the following statement today in response to comments made by Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry in the Boston Globe endorsing an amendment to the state constitution that would deny marriage rights to same-sex couples but allow civil unions.

"Senator Kerry's endorsement of a discriminatory amendment in Massachusetts is deeply disappointing," said Cheryl Jacques, HRC president. "Make no mistake, civil unions single out a group of people for second-class treatment. That is discrimination, and it does not belong in any Constitution. While we acknowledge the Senator's strong opposition to a federal constitutional amendment, supporting a divisive measure in his own state is exceptionally disheartening and frankly muddies the water on his actual position. Candidates who say they are against marriage for same-sex couples - but for civil unions - must clarify and affirm their support for the more than 1,000 federal benefits, rights and responsibilities that marriage provides but that civil unions do not.

"Marriage - not civil unions - unlocks the door to important federal protections. Civil unions do not provide Social Security survivor benefits - a system we pay into but that our survivors can't access. Civil unions do not allow an employee access to the Family and Medical Leave Act - a law that allows an employee to take time off of work to care for a sick loved one without fear of losing their job. Civil unions do not ensure fair taxation on a partner's health insurance or retirement savings. Civil unions are not portable and are currently recognized in only one state - Vermont. When a couple in a civil union leaves Vermont, they are strangers under the law. This list of protections goes on and on."