Interesting essay/oped in nyt.com: A case for civil unions among LGBTQ, skipping the naming of such unions as "marriage." This would be a federal law and state law (decided upon by each state):
Congress would bestow the status of federal civil unions on same-sex marriages and civil unions granted at the state level, thereby conferring upon them most or all of the federal benefits and rights of marriage. But there would be a condition: Washington would recognize only those unions licensed in states with robust religious-conscience exceptions, which provide that religious organizations need not recognize same-sex unions against their will. The federal government would also enact religious-conscience protections of its own. All of these changes would be enacted in the same bill.
David Blankenhorn and Jonathan Rausch wrote the essay, looking for common ground on the issue.
But the civil union is a marriage under a different name, since it has all the other federal provisions that marriage would have.
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