This article is divided into three sections. Section one considers the positive results from the civil unions law. It recognizes that this legislation represents an important step along the path toward full recognition of same-sex couples by extending significant rights, benefits, and responsibilities beyond opposite-sex marriage." With these benefits, however, come several problems. Section two places the civil unions law along side other examples of "separate but equal" restrictions in the race and sex contexts and considers it within the sexual orientation context. This section explains how government-sponsored segregation has always caused damage to both groups that are taught they must remain separate from one another. Section three discusses how separate can never be equal. It considers the issues of portability of civil unions and federal recognition of them. The essay concludes that, if these two vital aspects of marriage are not also characteristics of civil unions, then they truly are unequal. While we can view civil unions as an important step in the path of civil rights for sexual minorities, historically, steps which have included "separate but equal" have limited freedom, rather than promoted it.
Cox, But Why Not Marriage: Some Thoughts on Vermont’s Civil Unions Law, Same-Sex Marriage, and Separate But (Un)Equal, 25 Vermont L. Rev. 113-147 (2000).