Monday, December 10, 2007

Rudy Giuliani Then and Now: Marriage, Civil Union & Domestic Partnership

Last week we wrote about Giuliani’s reversal on hate crimes and the question mark over where he is on a non-discrimination bill. Now, we want to bring you up-to-date on how he’s changed his views around marriage, civil union and domestic partnership. Though not equal, all three are legal mechanisms government employs to support families.

As you will see, there has been significant slippage in Giuliani’s positions since he decided to run for President and sometimes he has completely reversed himself.

We continue to pose the question we asked when we launched “The Giuliani Files” two weeks ago: If Rudy Giuliani becomes President which Giuliani will he be on our issues? The Giuliani we knew as Mayor? Or the Giuliani who’s running for President?


Rudy Giuliani doesn’t support marriage for same-sex couples and never has. However, on the question of whether or not there should be a constitutional amendment prohibiting marriage for same-sex couples, he has moved from being against it to a position much closer to that of the religious right.

On March 7, 2004 he said on “Meet the Press” about a Constitutional amendment, “I certainly wouldn't support it at this time” and “I don't think this is one of the critical issues.” But this year Giuliani has said he would support an amendment if additional states legalize marriage for same-sex couples. See here and here for more of the specifics on this change in position.

Civil Union

In February 2004, Giuliani said on Fox News's "The O'Reilly Factor” that he was for civil unions. This year, however, his campaign told the New York Sun in a written statement that Giuliani opposes anything that is the equivalent of marriage and specifically said about New Hampshire enacting civil unions, “This goes too far and Mayor Giuliani does not support it.”

His new position on civil union was widely reported in April and ranks up there with hate crimes in terms of a major policy reversal on an important LGBT issue.

Domestic Partnership

While Giuliani’s backtracking on a marriage amendment and civil unions has been reported in the press, his shift on domestic partnerships – and it is a significant shift – has not been written about anywhere.

We should preface this by saying the domestic partnership (DP) is an umbrella term that, unlike marriage or civil unions, can mean many different things legally. It can be as little as a registry with no rights attached or as strong as California’s DP law, which is essentially civil union, and can also be many things in between.

When Giuliani was Mayor, he was firm in his belief that domestic partnerships and marriages should be treated the same by government in terms of the rights and obligations government provides them. He went out of his way in a 1997 letter to the Pride Agenda to put the two on the same level when he said he would work to have New York City pass a DP law. He also said anything less than equality between domestic partners and married persons would be discriminatory. In 2001, he again speaks about domestic partners and married persons in equivalent terms when he co-signed a letter to President Bush asking for the 9/11 federal victims compensation fund to treat survivors in domestic partner relationships the same as survivors who were married.

Today, there is strong evidence that his view of domestic partnership has shrunk to it being nothing more than a simple registry that gives two people a document that states they’re partners who live together in a committed relationship. No rights or responsibilities provided by government – only a piece of paper to shop around in the event some entity might honor it, such as an employer who provides DP health coverage and requires documentation to validate the relationship.

Why do we say this?

This summer, the Boston Globe pressed Giuliani on what rights should accompany domestic partnership for same-sex couples. The campaign refused to answer the question. Then on October 16 on Fox News’ Hannity & Colmes, Giuliani answered the question himself by saying benefits for same-sex couples “should be contractual.”

A favorite talking point by the religious right when arguing against marriage for same-sex couples is that we can already get the rights of marriage contractually by going to an attorney. In fact any two people in America can go to an attorney and get a very limited number of rights by filling out the necessary legal paperwork. In New York State of the almost 2,500 rights and responsibilities that come with a marriage license (1,138 federal-based, 1,324 state-based and in the case of NYC another 20 or so), two people can get just about five of those rights contractually and you don’t need to be domestic partners to get them. And even in these five areas, which include power of attorney and health care proxy, blood relatives can challenge these agreements and if they push hard enough can often have them broken in a court of law.

Here's the transcript from Hannity & Colmes and below is the clip:

We believe Rudy Giuliani knew what he was doing when he said on Fox News that rights “should be contractual.” Sadly, this would also mean his view of domestic partnership is now a simple registry with no rights attached, which is very different from his position in 1997 when he equated DP to marriage in terms of how government should treat the two.

No comments: