Brook Sadler, “Re-Thinking Civil Unions and Same-Sex Marriage,” in Larry May and others, Applied Ethics: A Multicultural Approach, Prentice Hall, 2011, 5th ed., 346-354.
Brook Sadler adopts a pragmatic approach to the question of civil marriage. She argues that the practice of civil marriage should be replaced by civil unions.
Civil unions have many of the benefits of civil marriage, but they do not stipulate that personal and sexual intimacy must be part of the relationship. The state’s interest in sexual and personal bonds in marriage need have no place in civil unions.
Contractual arrangements in civil unions have legal parallels in guardianship, domestic partnerships, and health-care surrogates. Religious marriages may continue, but civil marriages should be replaced by civil unions for both heterosexual and homosexual couples. An adult individual could enter into a civil union with one or more individuals—one’s lover, parent, or friend.