Gay activists in Britain are urging William and Kate to announce their support for marriage for same-sex couples. But at the same time they are advocating access to civil partnership for different-sex couples. At the moment, only same-sex couples can enter civil partnerships. Truncated news coverage has described the marriage equality plea without noting that advocates also back different-sex civil partnerships.
Although recent civil union legislation in Illinois and Hawaii both allow access for different-sex partners, Delaware's bill, which awaits the governor's signature, extends civil union status to same-sex couples only. Newspaper coverage noted than an effort to add different-sex couples was seen as an attempt to "undermine" the bill. That's a way of thinking that I do not follow. What civil union for different-sex couples undermines is the preservation of marriage as the one and only way straight people can announce their commitment. We are more likely to get to a greater recognition of the many ways that people form relationships that matter if we knock marriage off its pedestal. Given straight people options other than marriage is one step in that direction.