Most people, if they think about civil unions at all, assume that it’s for same-sex couples only. Here in New Zealand (where civil unions have been legal for a touch over three years), you can be any gender you please and get yourselves ‘unionised’ to another person. Which pleases me no end! Of course, the legal descriptions refers to gender only as male and female, but that’s something to change another day.
A few folks were perplexed when Apollo and I announced our attention to get a civil union rather than marriage. Those few folks were mostly extended family (and were also boggled when we had a quiet ceremony on the front porch of our house with four surprised guests, and then told the rest of them later). They couldn’t understand what the appeal of a civil union was for us.
Generally, this is what it comes down to – four different reasons coming together to help us make a decision.
1: Apollo and I are polyamorous. I was before we met, and he had been exposed to the concept and was open to trying it. It works really well for us. So hooray for non-’traditional’ relationship structures! While, legally, I can only show my commitment to one person, Apollo is my primary. So who better to show that commitment to?
2: Neither of us are religious. I grew up going to church, while he never did, but we’ve both put thought and time into figuring out what, if anything, we believe. As a panentheist, I have no desire to be married in the eyes of ‘God’. Or have a big wedding in a virginal (hah!) white dress in a church. So bring on the outdoor lack-of-ceremony, Buffy quotes, and bubbles instead!
3: We don’t want children. Never have, never will. (One of those conversations we had rather early on!) And, frankly, even if we did, having a civil union wouldn’t change things for us. As ‘opposite-sex’ partners, we can change our civil union to a marriage if we desire, provided we fill out the paperwork. Legally, they are absolutely the same in their recognition from the government.
4: Last but definitely not least, we wanted to show our support for same-sex couples. I can understand and respect the argument that everyone should be allowed to get married. However, my personal inclination is that marriage should no longer be a legal commitment (leave it to those who want to do it in church), and that civil unions should be the way to go for everyone. As it is in NZ, though, same-sex couples can only get a civil union. So why shouldn’t I do the same thing, given I could just have easily ended up with a primary partner of the ’same’ gender to me (my primary partner before him was a wonderful butch)?
Apollo and I have been civilly unioned for a little over two years. I call him my husband, my primary, my love. I wouldn’t change it for the world.