SURVEY SAYS: Civil Disobedience or Breaking the Law?

March 11, 2004 ( - While some cheered the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision on g.ay marriages - and others threatened to pursue a constitutional amendment to thwart the impact of that decision on the rest of the nation - a handful of mayors around the country (including those in states who already had laws on the books banning same s.ex marriages) decided to take matters into their own hands - and began handing out marriage licenses.

(b) The right thing to do

Despite your request for setting aside "personal feelings," I do not envy your task of sorting through the pontification your question will surely generate!

In states where current laws ban s-s marriages, I think what those mayors did (a) was wrong/illegal.

I think the laws in those states should be reviewed (and, ideally, changed to allow s-s civil unions). Regarding personal finances alone, I think it's crazy that my 401k can flow to my wife tax-free after my death, but that my brother's 401k would be heavily taxed upon his death before it went to his lifelong s-s partner. Further, I completely fail to understand how s-s marriages would weaken "the institution" of traditional marriage. It will have no such effect on mine. Did women's suffrage weaken the institution of democratic elections? The way the issue has been handled--by these mayors and in the press--has created a circus-like atmosphere that I feel, unfortunately, will undermine their cause in the short run.

Issuing marriage licenses to gay couples - it's the right thing to do. Domestic partners should also receive the same benefits as married couples as far as taxes, insurance benefits, etc. It's a sorry excuse to say that this undermines the sanctity of marriage, when around 50% of marriages between men and women end in divorce. What's wrong with being married to someone you love, regardless of the sex? It's definitely a political tactic in this election year.

I think it is both illegal (by definition against the law in many cases) and wrong. Civil unions specific to same sex couples are fine and should include all of the rights of "marriage" for the partners. But marriage is between one man and one woman and according to some specific guidelines. Not much of a domino theorist but if we erode that definition, there is nothing to keep a man from marrying his sister or polygamy/polyandry or adult/child marriages depending on where the line is drawn.

The answer to this question is easy.   It was wrong and illegal.   In virtually all instances, mayors are part of the executive branch of local governments.   As such, they are responsible for the execution of the laws written by the legislative branch of government.   By ignoring established laws, and in states where no law against same sex marriage exists, mayors, in effect, wrote a law.   Thus, they exercised legislative powers that were not theirs to exercise.  

The exercise of legislative power by the executive, and especially the judicial branches of our local, state and federal governments is the most dangerous domestic threat to our personal liberty today.   Regardless of whether or not you think that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, these actions should concern everyone deeply.   If this trend continues, we will be a small step from oligarchy...think Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Zimbabwe, Haiti, China just to mention a few.   If this occurs, individual rights will be trampled with property rights following closely behind.  

By the way, I think that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, so that they can endure, I mean, enjoy all the benefits of marriage offered to non-same-sex couples.

In response to your survey, I would say A "it was wrong/illegal".   Our laws are not written to have a handful of individuals in office decide to take matters into their own hands. Our country was built on democracy and a system of "checks and balances".   One individual acting as a "vigilante" to alter a perceived wrong creates only chaos and confusion.   To other countries then, we are portrayed as being ruled by insurgents rather than a democracy.  

I guess I would have to say "a" - as their own states have a law against it, they should go about change through the proper legislative channels and probably "e" - as I can't think of any other reason they would break their own laws!

All of the above, depending on where the mayor was located and the laws of that particular local govt. The mayors seemed to either fell that it was not expressly prohibited, therefore not illegal, or that the law itself preventing same s.ex marriages should itself not exits and did it to protest. If they are bucking the law - than in that particular locale, the mayor was wrong. The ensuing brouhaha is a waste of tax-payer $$$ - and to some degree I do believe this is an election year ploy - one that MOST candidates would prefer NOT to be forced to address. The statement 'much ado about nothing' is less than apropos - the fact is that our private lives should be our private business.

Marriage is a man made institution - as is religion.    The government of the US is about FREEDOM.   Freedom from persecution for our beliefs - whatever they may be, as long as they do not infringe on some one else's rights. So, why should the government legislate our marriages? They are legislating the morals of society and dictating what is right/wrong between consenting adults.

When I married my DH we had a religious ceremony and had to file civil paperwork as required by law. When my sister married, we had to have a private ceremony in the house because NO ONE would marry a same sex couple in our religion... certainly there was no legal paperwork filed.

Our male dominated society and male dominated government will continue to repress the minorities as long as they are allowed to do so.   We give them power and we can take it away - remember that when you got to vote.

Don't even get be started on why health insurance companies pay for Viagra and other ED drugs, but NOT birth control pills and other conception prevention meds.

Illegal, but the right thing to do...and also an election ploy...

We're currently surveying to determine which orgs are accepting marriage certificates for benefits enrollment...turns out the vast majority are taking a wait and see position.   However the chaos it creates for us as the marriage certs are presented are you enroll with a caveat that you'll cancel if the certs are invalidated?

Therefore, ultimately it adds complexity and work to an already overtaxed work unit.

It was definitely the right thing to do.   Whether or not it was politically motivated should not matter.   What should matter are human rights.  

HOW do you set aside personal feelings?   I can bet that those who went out on a limb to issue the licenses did so because they believed in the cause.   We have a Constitutional right to speak our opinion -- however -- we do not have the right to break the law.   I vote (a) and shame on those who accepted a position in government to support the laws and then ignored them.

Wrong/illegal - they should be thrown out of office.

These mayors are doing the right thing.   No civil rights changes come without civil disobedience first - think black's freedom, women's suffrage and the civil rights movement of the 60s.   The status quo needs a sledge-hammer taken to it occasionally to break loose the impaction.   Science tells us that being gay/lesbian is no more the choice of an individual than choosing the color of their skin, or the nationality in which they were born. If God/Creator designed our biology, then God/Creator designed us all equally.   It is not God/Creator who justifies discrimination - this is man's burden to overcome these false beliefs.

Kind of hard to set aside your personal feelings on an issue such as this, since it is from the ground up a moral issue.

I think it is wrong; against the very nature of mankind.

I think it is illegal.   The Supreme Court has no authority to write law - or demand that laws be written.

The actions by the mayors are wrong.   It shouldn't matter (even though it does matter) what the issue is.   Going against state enacted laws is not the way to maintain an orderly and lawful society.

I definitely say "B."   It absolutely baffles me that people would threaten introduce and amendment to the constitution that blocks equal rights.   This country never ceases to amaze me.

By the way, I love receiving News Dash daily. Thanks!

I think it was the right thing to do.   Peaceful civil disobedience as a result of acts of good conscience is the foundation of a free democracy.

Ah, another multiple answer question.   I can argue that it was a) wrong/illegal, c) a waste of taxpayer time and money and e) an election year ploy.   Instead, I choose to believe that it's somewhere between expression of a heartfelt belief and grandstanding.   Often, it's easy to see how something will end up when it wends its way through the "process" (whatever that is).   In this case, it might signal the start of a realignment of our social system that will further fracture our society.   Stay tuned and involved.

I would say (a) and (c) and (e).

b) The right thing to do. I am incensed that there are still people in this world who think s*xuality is a choice and think it's right to deny g*y couples the same legal options.

(a) - being an HR type who respects "rules", I think that to take the law into their own hands was wrong and illegal.

I personally believe that if you feel so strongly about an issue and want to make a major change, take an appropriate action that everyone can respect now and when history looks back on the transition.

It's unfortunate that they would stoop so low as to exploit this emotionally charged issue, but I'd say it's definitely an election year ploy.   My thought (hope) is that everyone (gays and straights alike) will see through this cheap trick to get votes and throw all of them out of office.

C. Irrespective of right or wrong, it seems quite certain the courts are eventually going to go that way anyhow.   To me, it seems that it is just going to be wasting huge amounts of time and tax payer's money dragging it through the system.   Most likely, more lawyers will benefit than citizens?!?!?  

While my religion clearly says that sex between those of the same gender is wrong, my politics say it is none of the government's business who we choose as our legal heir/guardian.   While I would be disturbed if my priest started marrying gay couples in our church, I would never be so presumptuous to impose my personal religious beliefs on others, so I don't find anything wrong with these public officials doing what they are doing.   Last I checked we still had a separation of church and state.  

This is an act of civil disobedience by a few elected officials who feel very strongly about a perceived wrong.   Sometime civil disobedience means breaking a law, which while technically "wrong", has been the spark that has led to the righting of many wrongs over our country's history. Many of these wrongs have been about discrimination: slavery, women voting, racism, etc.   This is just yet another currently legal way to discriminate against those that are "different" which as time goes by will, like the others, be changed.  

I say it is (a) wrong/illegal

How to people choose to copulate, be it biologically incongruous or otherwise, is a decision they make personally between themselves.   Forcing their choice upon the rest of the country amounts to "special interest."   Only a biological father and a biological mother can provide the unique nurturing and teaching needed by their children.

It was (b) the right thing to do. Sometimes it takes a Gandhi approach of civil disobedience to change things that need to be changed.   Allowing these marriages will at least solve one headache on how to handle health, life and other benefits.   As a company with a self-insured plan, we are struggling as to what to do regarding domestic partners who are currently not covered under our plan as our companies have run into compliance issues when wanting to do business with States like California.   Our concerns are not only the cost factor but how to administer such a program.   We'd be interested in knowing what other companies are doing.

In response to your survey question, the acts of these activist judges and mayors are nothing short of breaking the law.   This is not a civil rights issue as claimed.   Gays do not meet the definition for marriage of a man and woman joined in matrimony.   If they wish to seek legal rights such as recognized in Europe in civil unions that is another matter; but they can never be married, and If the laws are continued to be ignored, I agree with a constitutional amendment banning this.  

To me it looks like a ploy by those who can't get a law they want passed to circumvent the existing law to force those opposed to change.   I have to say it's a massive (a) (c) & (e).   More (a) for the illegal half, the wrong half could be more subjective depending on how you read it.   Sorry I know that really screws up your tally!

I am very sick of hearing about this every time I turn the radio or television on like hom*ose*xuality is some pressing experience we all need to know about.   It belongs only to the 3 to 10% who don't know anatomy depending on whose poll you read.   However, the law belongs to all of us even to those opposed to the law and any changes to it need to be done in the prescribed fashion.   That's the beauty of the USA vs. a pre-constitution Iraq.   Any official who willingly breaks laws because they simply disagree with its content needs to 1) lose their position immediately, 2) deal with their breaking of the law in a court room as a defendant and find out firsthand how it works.

Yes I've been called racist, bigot and intolerant even though I except every person as an individual and only shove my values on my children.   I am often told what I should believe and how I should speak, think and act by those who are self professed to be enlightened and evolved.   Go figure!

Most certainly e - an election year ploy.   What a great way to get your name in everyone's home not only in your jurisdiction, but nationwide. Shame on politicians for stooping to this level, and shame on would be voters that may be swayed by this ploy.

Since most state legislatures can override city authority, thereby making the licenses null and void, it also gets an a - illegal and a c - waste of taxpayer time and money.

A and C, as it is both (a) wrong/illegal, and (c) a waste of taxpayer time and money.   Like it or not, we live in a society that has created rules (laws) that govern our collective behavior, and in my opinion, Mayors, and other public officials, have a higher duty to defend and abide by the rules of society.   If they believe that the rules are wrong, they should work within our system to get the rules changed, not openly defy them in a public display that sends the message that it is ok to ignore the laws you do not like.   These mayors have shown a serious lapse of good judgment and should be reprimanded if not removed from office.  

All of the answers except (b).   It was against the laws on the books, an election year ploy, waste of taxpayers' time and money and much ado about nothing (although some may disagree with the last one). You needed an additional choice of all of the above except (b). Only in America!

At first I thought it was (a), but as more mayors did it, I realized that it was (b).   At first I thought it was going to detract from the work that Massachusetts was doing within the law.   Then I realized that the mayors were bringing the subject national attention and encouraging people to speak out on the subject.   Non-violent civil disobedience has its place in our society as a catalyst for change.

(a).   In a nation of laws, we are not allowed to pick and choose which laws we are going to follow, and which we will ignore.   It would simplify my life if I could pick which sections of the Internal Revenue Code I want to comply with, but I doubt that would stand up in court.

A, C and E

A - Not all of them have violated their state constitutions but the ones that have are clearly looking to challenge the law.

C - Just another example of how I do not have a say in how my government spends my money.

E - Isn't everything a politician does in front of a camera an election ploy?

The answer would have to be (A) since it is illegal in these states. My wife works for a bank, sure hope these mayors don't think it is OK to rob banks (it's also illegal) and start giving out ski masks.

IN response to your survey question at the bottom of this email I would like to say that the action of certain mayors is wrong and illegal.   If their states already have laws on their books banning the marriages the mayors should be the ones upholding the laws for the common good of the state's community. Why shouldn't the mayors be accused of assisting in a crime?

All of the above, but that's what makes it interesting!

A, C, and E, in that order.

Regarding the question about the mayors handing out marriage licenses, my take on it is that probably (a), (b), (c), (d) and (e) are true.   On another note, though, with the divorce rate so high for hetero marriages, the increase of cohabitation among heteros w/out benefit of a license, the number of children from broken hetero homes, the   percentage of admitted hetero adulterers, why on earth wouldn't the gay community want to join these legions?!

(a) wrong/illegal - if you can't depend on individuals in office to obey the law, do they really expect everyone else to obey the law?

a) Not wrong; but illegal at this nascent stage of action, in that providing this service (marriage) on the basis of sex when no sex relationships involving loving, caring, and long term financial, emotional, educational and spiritual, physical care and support, involving brother/sister; mother/daughter; two elderly brother in laws living together after their wives died (my neighbors in Takoma Park), etc., are denied these services, is discrimination on the basis of sex;

b) the right thing to do when (and if) local communities are searching for what relationships to reward for undertaking legal obligations that will help the local community; but wrong when done only for sexually active relationships and wrong when the legal obligation side of "marriage" is being ignored; and wrong because both the rights and obligations need to be decided legally by States, not Mayors;

c)   not a waste of taxpayer money, because these acts will motivate the States to again revive old conservative Republican principles suggesting that governments can not do everything and that power that is not specifically delegated to the federal government belongs to the people and their State governments; and our State legislators will begin to look at what relationships are necessary and beneficial for the caring of children, the caring for the elderly, the sick, and the poor in ways that the government -- especially the federal government -- can not hope to master.

d) Much ado about nothing?   No, these acts signal a possible revolution in the way society is organized. They also will be the battle ground for the proponents of conservative principles looking to facilitate local people oriented control of society and others (e.g., Bush) who want a federal mandated rule for every State.

e) This is much more than an election year ploy.

Mayors and elected officials must comply with the law.   They are not above the law and do not have the authority to create law without due process.   This is destructive to people's lives.   No matter which side of the argument you are on, they are making promises they cannot keep and causing problems for every payroll/HR department in the country, not to mention estate law, pension benefits, SSA benefits and a host of other issues.

A & C   I fully support a change in the law if it is done through proper means but illegal is illegal.

I believe those mayors are doing the right thing.   Just because there is a law on the books does not make it right.   After all, I believe everyone today would think that a law banning inter-racial marriage is wrong yet only 40 years ago there were such laws throughout the U.S.   A Constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage has so many things wrong with it that it is simply too long a list for here.  

I doubt people can set aside their personal feelings on it and even if we do, I'm not sure your four options for answers is quite enough!   I'm torn on it--being formerly from the SF Bay Area, where one of those mayors is located.   He just was elected, so it is not an election-year ploy.   He's gotten Arnold's attention on the matter, so it is possible that the act of 'civil disobedience' may work to get some new action on it/revisit the law as it is written.   I did not vote for the measure that is currently on the books there--I don't know that these sorts of matters ought to be legislated.   I fall somewhere between b and c since currently those "marriages" aren't legally recognized so there is a certain amount of wasted cost associated with issuing all those licenses and performing the corresponding "marriages."   Not sure what those government employees would have been doing otherwise.   But it may turn out to be a good thing.   Religious issues aside, if partners are in committed relationships they are not afforded any rights in terms of health issues, etc., and it would seem that civil unions could resolve those problems.   

My opinion is that elected officials have the responsibility to uphold the law.   They are KNOWINGLY breaking the law, and should suffer the consequences.

If it were my mayor, this would be something that would determine my vote in the next election.

B:   The right thing to do.   Either we are all EQUAL or we are NOT!   It's like being 'a little bit pregnant'   ....either you are or you're not!

I'd have to say a combination of (c) and (e).   In New Mexico it's mostly a way for them to gain national media attention for an often overlooked State - now we know why they are often overlooked.  

Boy, this weeks question is a tough one.   There is probably some "A" and "E" thrown in there, but ultimately, I think it will prove to be "B", the right thing to do.   The world is going toward recognizing alternative couples, and I think those protesting will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the future.   Including our president.

There are always examples of naysayers predicting dire consequences during times of significant social change, but the world adjusts and in my opinion becomes a better place when it makes decisions that make the world a more fair place for everyone.

In response to your survey, what these mayors are doing is clearly illegal in that these types of marriages are not currently recognized at the state level in any of the 50 states.   What they are doing is creating a state of anarchy and confusion in our country, which is not a healthy thing for any country.

(b) It's morally the right thing to do, though there are definitely legal barriers.  

From the legal standpoint, it might be better to create a civil union that provides the same legal protections to same-sex couples that marriages provide to heterosexual couples.   If it wasn't characterized as a "marriage," which seems to have more religious connotations, logically at least it would be less offensive to the religious right (through they basically seem to be offended by the fact that gay people exist, period). Don't they believe that God created gay people as part of the human race? Gays have always existed and always will, and it seems to be just another form of bigotry to deny their relationships the same legal rights and protections (and responsibilities) that married couples have.  

And the idea that a constitutional amendment is needed to protect marriage and family values is ludicrous.   It seems more like political posturing and a way of avoiding the country's very real and not-very-solvable problems, such as the economy, unemployment/underemployment, getting out of the war in Iraq without leaving a potential internal bloodbath behind, the looming Social Security crisis, etc. (the list goes on).   These problems have a lot more effect on the American people than a legalized union between the gay couple down the street, which harms no one.

B).  I've made a real journey on this issue.   I started out thinking that civil unions were the answer… now I understand that it's merely a compromise, a "separate but equal" situation.   Now, I agree with the New York Times editorial of this past Sunday, which said that years from now we will look back on this issue -- like serving African-Americans at lunch counters -- and marvel at the fact that we ever had to have the conversation.

I definitely have an opinion on this one...

In a world full of war, killing, and chaos, is it really such a crime for people to want proclaim in front of G_d and everyone that they promise to love each other forever?    People should be ashamed of themselves for they way they have portrayed this issue in the media.

Morality aside, Gay marriage is wrong because it is illegal.   Civil Unions are more than a reasonable solution to those of the same sex who wish to live as married people do.   It seems to me that the states should decide to what extent these unions would be recognized.   Partner benefits, survivor benefits, and authority to make decisions for one and other in the event of incapacitation should be granted without having any effect on the traditional definition of marriage between a man and a woman. It is an issue that has been far too politicized, and the irresponsible actions of elected officials by refusing to follow the law of the land has weakened the country and made a mockery of the importance of laws, rules, and codes of conduct that are important for any society to not only prosper, but to survive.   The events of the last several weeks have also been a colossal waist of tax payer money!  

I love your daily bulletins!   Cheers!  

I think this is an election year ploy.   Personally, I don't support a Constitutional Amendment.   Amendment should be reserved for correcting oversights and omissions of the founding fathers.   I thought we had learned that using the Constitution for prohibition doesn't work.

Happily married for 12 years to someone of the opposite sex, however I wouldn't deny my gay cousin the right to marry his partner of over 20 years, if it was his desire to do so.   What is right or wrong for someone else is not for me to determine when it comes to who they want to spend their life with.

It seems that marriage is a part of're born, you grow, up you get married, have kids, maybe get divorced and die.   Who you do it with is your choice!

Not only is this act (a) wrong/illegal, but it is also (c) a waste of taxpayer's time and money.  

It is still amazing to me that a population of probably less than 2% is getting some much media "face-time" and that our current culture is so willing to be manipulated by the media.   Really - same sex marriage?   What % of the gay population wants to actually get "married?"   If you want to provide benefits for someone besides a spouse, that's a totally different issue.   How about all of the baby boomers who cannot provide medical coverage for parents that they care for, or an elderly aunt that lives-in because they cannot afford anything else?   How about low-income families with extended relatives under the care of one income?   I would imagine that this population far outweighs the homosexual community at large.   I have no problem with changing coverage laws, but marriage is a different story.   (Sorry.   How does one put their personal feelings aside on this issue?)

(a) wrong/illegal, (c) a waste of taxpayer time and money, (d) much ado about nothing, (e) an election year ploy - but on the bright side they will have less time to think of new ways to spend money and raise taxes!

I wanted to respond to your survey question.   I'm glad that you asked the question and it will be interesting to see the response from your readership.   However, I'm not sure how one can "set aside your personal feelings about same sex marriages" in answering the question.   Do you really think that is possible?   Nevertheless, I would choose (b) as the response to the question.   What the mayors are doing is courageous.   It also may be illegal in some cases by violating state laws, but it most certainly is "the right thing to do" by giving same sex couples the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples.  

Have you asked the question directly about how your readers feel about same sex marriages?   Should same sex couples have the right to marry or should it be prohibited (as President Bush has proposed)?   Frankly, I think that is a more interesting and direct question.  

A combination of B and D.

To me the most interesting aspect of this whole thing is that prior to the mayoral election in San Francisco I read many articles lamenting that Gavin Newsom was not liberal enough to be mayor of that city. I'm thinking that is probably no longer a concern

It is wrong for the Mayor's, (or anybody else), to break the laws of their State - if they want to change the laws they need to go through the due process.   Are they above the Law?   If so where do we stand as a nation? Their resignation should be sought after.

This is the wrong thing to do.   It is up to the State governments to make the law, not city mayors.

(a), (c) and (e).   I believe if we recognize such and support it is the beginning of the end.   If you look at history, which we all seem to be unable to learn from, the beginning of the end of each age i.e., Romans, Greeks, etc. was when the acceptance of the alternate life styles as normal was the end of those societies.   I am not attacking those who feel draw to that lifestyle, but I don't agree with it.   I was taught to love the sinner but hate the sin.

The mayors and other public officials take an oath of office swearing to uphold the laws of the land.   I am of the opinion that when these officials flaunt the law they have perjured themselves and should be immediately removed from office, have the office declared vacant and filled by established procedure.   While I am not taking a stand, moral or otherwise on the issue I am a solid law and order person.   The legislature is responsible for making the laws.   The judicial opines on the constitutionality of the laws.   The executive carries out the laws within the process established by the laws.   In this system of checks and balances there is no room for activist judges making laws or mayors exceeding their authority with impunity.   The nation (U S of A) must continue a nation ruled by laws.   Nothing else is acceptable. The nation does not need a constitutional amendment defining marriage.   

B & E.   The right thing to do & an election year ploy. B: If they're American and pay taxes, they should have access to the same rights all married couples have. E: The current federal administration has divided the country on many different levels (ironically, Bush campaigned in 2000 that he is able to bring the parties together, but I digress), and local politicians are simply leveraging federal-level decisions and comments for their own gain.   I could go on, but I've already rambled enough.

I believe its (d). It's a union of two people, who cares. The definition of marriage never says that they have to be the same s* ex or for that matter color, religion and age either. Throughout time people have been ostracized in society for marrying someone not within the "norm of society". One religion to another, one color to another, Pre-arranged marriages of a 70 to 14 year old, cousins to cousins. And over time, everyone has learned to deal with it as long as it's NIMBY. (Not in my back yard)

I still believe that the push for gay marriage is not about the marriage, it is about equality. The equal right to insurance benefits, to hospital visitation, to taxation, to adoption, to everything else that makes one group of people think they are better than another. If we all were treated equal in everything, this push would not be happening. That said, as long as it is not marriage by a religion (the bible does not believe in equality) and just a civil ceremony, which cares.

A) It's wrong/illegal.   They should be prosecuted.    C) A waste of taxpayer time & money.    E) An election year ploy.   Hopefully, enough voters with common sense will step up and vote the knuckleheads out of office.

I believe that you have miscategorized option (a) -- things can be "wrong" (a moral distinction) and not be "illegal" (a statutory distinction).  

In those states where there is a law on the books defining marriage as 1 man/1 woman, the actions of the mayors is ILLEGAL and they should be prosecuted.   In areas where there is no law on the books, it may be both (e) and a new option (f) -- cultural grandstanding and, perhaps, a ploy for tourism dollars and marriage license fees to help strained city coffers.

In any event, perhaps it is time to make marriage a religious ceremony, only, and have ALL couples who wish to have the "legal" rights of marriage (inheritance, benefits, hospital visits, etc.) sign up for a civil union!