Volume 73, Number 47 | March 24 -30, 2004

Glick tells Chamber of her idea to replace marriage with unions

By Lincoln Anderson

Assemblymember Deborah Glick plans to introduce a bill in Albany that would change the language of the state’s Domestic Relations Law to allow same-sex couples to wed. The bill would eliminate a “semantic barrier” that has deprived gays and lesbian couples of equality, according to Glick. Simply, the word “marriage” would be replaced by “civil union,” and civil union licenses would be issued instead of marriage licenses. The bill, sponsored by Glick and Assemblymember Danny O’Donnell, will be introduced soon, and would apply to heterosexual as well as homosexual unions.

Glick made her first public remarks about the bill at the Greenwich Village Chelsea Chamber of Commerce’s March 21 luncheon at La Palapa Mexican restaurant, 359 Sixth Ave., between W. Fourth St. and Washington Pl., where she was the featured speaker.

“We would be making the playing field level and equal,” Glick said in a telephone interview with The Villager on Tuesday. “Since it became clear that there are so many, religious overtones for the word ‘marriage,’ at this point, we would rather that the state focus its efforts on civil union and leave marriage to the religious realm. But that means civil unions for every couple, gay or straight, so there isn’t a two-tiered system for gay and straight couples. The state should be getting out of the marriage business and into the civil union business,” she said.

Glick said she’s been concerned about the larger issue of the weakening of the separation of church and state, and that replacing marriage with civil unions as the officially recognized institution would help address this problem. If people want to get married after first having a civil union performed, marriages could be performed by religious clergy, and the individuals could make arrangements with a church, synagogue, mosque or other religious institution. Civil unions, on the other hand, would be performed by a judge, magistrate or mayor.

Under the bill, all the current rights and responsibilities of marriages would be the same under civil unions. After getting wed in a civil union, it would be up to couples to decide whether to refer to each other as “husband,” “wife,” “spouse” or anything else, she said.

She said she’s currently trying to round up sponsors for the bill. Asked the chances of its passing the Assembly and Republican-dominated State Senate, Glick said she didn’t want to handicap the bill before it has even been introduced.

Glick and O’Donnell’s bill is different from one sponsored by State Senator Tom Duane and Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, which seeks to clarify the language in the Domestic Relations Law so that gay marriage is unequivocally allowed. Glick is also a sponsor of Duane and Gottfried’s bill.


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