Polls show that Americans support civil unions. But the American people dont really grasp what it entails. Heterosexual couples enjoy many rights which gay couples dont. They come in five different categories. And depending on where you live, some of these items may be listed in the wrong categories. First, is the category which I call Other Peoples Money. This means that government changes a policy in such a way that private corporations must fork over money to gays even if they dont want to. The big item here is insurance coverage. This is another reason why we need universal health coverage it is stupid to make health coverage dependent on employment or marriage. Second is the government money category. That means that government changes policy in a way that means that you, as the taxpayer, give new money to gays. This includes compensation for service-related deaths, income tax filing status and deductions, tax-free property transfers, Social Security, veterans pensions and disability, disabled vets tax exemptions, and relocation benefits for military families. There are some issues which could be either Other Peoples Money or governmental money, depending on the rules: these include survivor benefits and continuation of health care for surviving spouses. Third is the category which means that gays get more rights under government regulations than they do now, even if no money is necessarily involved. These include organ donor issues, next-of-kin status, parental rights, access to school records, alimony, child custody, adoption, foster care, homestead laws, water rights, spousal assets as a factor in determining need for government aid (VA benefits, housing, educational loans, farm price supports), name changes, domestic violence laws, spousal privilege for criminal witnesses, prison and hospital visitation, conflict-of-interest rules, medical decisions, and funeral decisions. Fourth: this category involves areas in which the government would need to impose regulations on private corporations. This would include condominium laws and bankruptcy. The fifth category involves problems which could be resolved by a simple consensual contract, such as child support (if the law allows it), shared property, prenuptial agreements, and wills and inheritance. We need fair statutory law to give gays and lesbians their rights. But conservatives have a legitimate issue: all of this means that the rest of us will pay more money. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, gays have a legitimate point that America cannot take the position that we just cant afford to treat gays fairly. Not acceptable. And here is a critical bit. Conservatives are dead wrong in asserting that marriage must be only an issue between one man and one woman. But they are dead right in that if the line isnt drawn there, it must be drawn somewhere. What constitutes marriage, and what constitutes a relationship that warrants enhances rights under the five categories above? Questions such as: Who is allowed to perform and sanction a marriage ceremony? Organized churches? Judges? Ship captains? Faux Elvises from Vegas, with mail-order theological degrees? Uncle Ray-Ray who runs a voodoo shop? Who is allowed to be married? Is it always two people? How do we stop the scams? What if a homeless activist like Mitch Snyder hires some fly-by-night preacher to marry him to all 50 homeless guys in the local shelter, and then he leads them all to the local hospital, demanding they all get coverage as his partners? What if Guido the Killer Pimp decides to marry all his hos, so as to give them all health benefits? What about cults which have their own peculiar views about marriage, to include multiple marriages and under-age marriages? Do all those people get legal protection? Even for the people who want one-man-one-woman, what about transgender and hermaphrodites? We cannot leave all this up in the air. If government doesnt take action in the form of legislation, then government will still get involved in the form of endless litigation in court. Not long ago two lesbian adoptive mothers sued each other for custody of their child, each claiming she was the mother because there was no statutory law to guide the judge. We need leadership, good laws and good policy. And above all we need fairness.