Gay marriage, also known as same-sex marriage, is marriage between two persons of the same sex. By 2010, The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, Norway, Sweden and South Africa had all legalized same-sex marriage. The federal government of the United States does not recognize the marriages of same-sex couples and is prohibited from doing so by the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Nationwide, five states have legalized same-sex marriage: New Hampshire, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. In California, same-sex marriages were performed between June 16, 2008 and November 4, 2008, after the California Supreme Court held the statutes limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples violated the state constitution; however, the California electorate then approved a voter initiative that reinstated the ban on same-sex marriage as part of California's constitution. Some states recognize gay marriage, but do not grant same-sex marriage licenses, including, by 2010, New York, Rhode Island, and Maryland. The movement to obtain marriage rights and benefits for same-sex couples in the United States began in the early 1970s. The issue became even more prominent in U.S. politics in the mid-1990s with a public backlash toward the idea evidenced by Congress' passage of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. In the late 2000s, New England became the center of an organized push to legalize same-sex marriage in the U.S., with four of the six states comprising that region granting same-sex couples the legal right to marry. President Obama has regularly opposed same sex marriage, saying, "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman."
No. The government does not define "dating", "best friend", "friend with benefits", "acquaintance", etc. It is no coincidence that the meaning of these is not creating conflict. Government should stay out of people's personal lives and allow them to define relationships however they want without approving or disapproving of those definitions.
Marriage defined: Can definition of marriage include gay marriage?
Marriage is about love/commitment; gays qualify Marriage is a commitment to love and care for your spouse till death. This is what is heard in all wedding vows. Civil marriage vows emphasize love and commitment. Reproduction and child-rearing are not mentioned, nor is the sexual orientation of individuals. And, wedding vows, being the essential element of a wedding ceremony, should be seen as the most authoritative expression of what defines marriage. Gays can clearly qualify for marriage according to these vows, and any definition of marriage deduced from these vows.
Marriage is defined as between a man and woman. President Barack Obama has said on multiple occassions during his political career, including the 2008 presidential election campaign: "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman." Indeed, marriage, throughout its thousands of years of existence, has only been used to describe the union of a man and woman, toward the general end of starting a family and raising children. To change the definition to include gays would go against thousands of years of history, from which definitions are formed and should be maintained.
Reproduction: Is the key function of marriage not procreation?
No Background Information
Procreation is no prerequisite for marriage and excluding gays"Religion & Ethics - Same-Sex Marriage: Procreation." BBC. February 24th, 2007: "society does not insist that those who want to marry demonstrate that they can and will have children: 1. heterosexuals who cannot have children are allowed to marry. 2. heterosexuals who don't want to have children are allowed to marry. 3. heterosexuals who don't want to have sex are allowed to marry (although the partners must have agreed to this before marriage). 4. heterosexuals who can't have sex because one partner is in prison for life are allowed to marry. 5. heterosexuals can use technical assistance to have children. 6. same-sex couples can have children using the same methods."
Vows are about love, not reproduction; gays qualify The Standard Civil Ceremony is as follows: "[Name], I take you to be my lawfully wedded [husband/wife]. Before these witnesses I vow to love you and care for you as long as we both shall live. I take you, with all of your faults and strengths, as I offer myself to you with my faults and strengths. I will help you when you need help, and will turn to you when I need help. I choose you as the person with whom I will spend my life." The emphasis is squarely on commitment and love, and has nothing to do with reproduction and starting a family. On this core, clearly gays qualify for marriage, because they can love and commit to each other.
Marriage is about much more than kids; gays qualify"Let them wed." Economist. January 4th, 1996: "It is true that the single most important reason society cares about marriage is for the sake of children. But society's stake in stable, long-term partnerships hardly ends there. Marriage remains an economic bulwark. Single people (especially women) are economically vulnerable, and much more likely to fall into the arms of the welfare state. Furthermore, they call sooner upon public support when they need care—and, indeed, are likelier to fall ill (married people, the numbers show, are not only happier but considerably healthier). Not least important, marriage is a great social stabiliser of men."
Gays can reproduce and start a family. For a lesbian couple, one woman's egg can be implanted into their female partner's uterus and then fertilized with an unknown donor's sperm. After the baby is born, instead of the father's name being used, the other spouse's names can be stated. Gay couples can also reproduce using one man's sperm and a surrogate mother. In both situations, the couples can raise-children, and fit any criteria of marriage being about reproduction and starting a family.
Gays cannot recklessly procreate as straights can A New York Court ruled in 2006 presented what is known as the “reckless procreation” rationale in favor of gay marriage. "Heterosexual intercourse," the plurality opinion stated, "has a natural tendency to lead to the birth of children; homosexual intercourse does not." Gays become parents, the opinion argued, in a number of ways, including adoption and artificial insemination, “but they do not become parents as a result of accident or impulse.” In other words, the non-procreative nature of homosexuals is as much a blessing as it might be seen a curse.
Marriage is categorically about procreation despite exceptionsSusan M. Shell. "The liberal case against gay marriage." Public Interest. Summer 2004: "marriage, in all the diversity of its forms, draws on a model of partnership rooted in human generation. [...] Gay relations bear a less direct relation to the generative act in its full psychological and cultural complexity than relations between heterosexual partners, even when age, individual preference, or medical anomaly impede fertility. Gay relations have a plasticity of form, an independence from natural generation, for which they are sometimes praised, but which, in any case, also differentiates them from their heterosexual counterparts." In other words, male-female partnerships, categorically, hold the potential for procreation. It is true that there are exceptions, such as infertile couples, but these are exceptions. Gays, conversely, cannot, as a category, reproduce together. This makes them ineligible for marriage, while still making it acceptable for infertile male-female marriages to exist, as they are consistent with the rule.
Marriage is safety-net for accidental pregnancies (N/A for gays). Marriage is often about men "doing the right thing" and marrying a woman that they make pregnant. This is beneficial for society as it discourages single-parent child-rearing. Homosexuals do not experience this circumstance and cannot claim marriage as a reason to aid children. This is an additional reason for denying them the ability to marry; it doesn't provide the same utility to society as it does for heterosexual child-rearing.
Tradition: Is traditional insufficient to ban gay marriage?
How about washing? Traditions can be made, traditions can be destroyed, traditions can be followed. Just because something is traditional, doesn't mean that we should follow them. During the Middle Ages, bathing and washing was considered sinful and untraditional. Does that mean that we should not bathe and wash just for the sake of tradition? No. Like this, traditions disappear when they make no sense and when we no longer need them. Traditions are made because we need them. We're entering a new age. Let's face it. The rules don't apply anymore, and traditions are rapidly disappearing.
Being unaccustomed to gay marriage is no argument"Let them wed." Economist. January 4th, 1996: "In the end, leaving aside (as secular governments should) objections that may be held by particular religions, the case against homosexual marriage is this: people are unaccustomed to it. It is strange and radical. That is a sound argument for not pushing change along precipitously. Certainly it is an argument for legalising homosexual marriage through consensual politics (as in Denmark), rather than by court order (as may happen in America). But the direction of change is clear. If marriage is to fulfill its aspirations, it must be defined by the commitment of one to another for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health—not by the people it excludes."
Gay marriage threatens cultural tradition of marriageMargarette Somerville. "The case against gay marriage." McGill Center for Medicine, Ethics and Law. April 29, 2003: "To form a society, we must create a societal-cultural paradigm — the collection of values, principles, attitudes, beliefs, and myths, the “shared story” through which we find values and meaning in life, as both individuals and society. In establishing a societal-cultural paradigm all human societies have focused on the two great events of every human life: birth and death. Marriage is a central part of the culture — values, attitudes, beliefs — that surrounds birth. We require a culture related to birth in a secular society, at least as much as in a religious one, and must establish it through secular means. That is one reason why the legal recognition of marriage is important."
Marriage institution: Can gay-inclusion uphold the institution of marriage?
Gay marriage devalues the institution of marriage It has been this way throughout history, regardless of religion, in ALL societies from primative to developed. It is natural law. It provides the structure for procreation and then nurturing, educating, and developing the children into productive members of society. Each child needs a father and a mother in their upbringing to model both. There is ample evidence that when either are missing, poverty and dysfunction increases (however noble the efforts of the single parent).
Slippery slope: Can gay marriage avoid slippery slope to incest etc?
Gay marriage "slippery slope" argument is scare-mongeringScott Bidstrup. "Gay Marriage: The Arguments and the Motives": "[Claim] 9. Same-sex marriage would start us down a "slippery slope" towards legalized incest, bestial marriage, polygamy and all manner of other horrible consequences. [Answer:] A classic example of the reductio ad absurdum fallacy, it is calculated to instill fear in the mind of anyone hearing the argument. It is, of course, absolutely without any merit based on experience. If the argument were true, wouldn't that have already happened in countries where forms of legalized gay marriage already exist? Wouldn't they have 'slid' towards legalized incest and bestial marriage? The reality is that a form of gay marriage has been legal in Scandinavian countries for many years, and no such legalization has happened, nor has there been a clamor for it. It's a classic scare tactic."
Gay marriage is slippery slope to polygamous marriage etc There are many possible ways in which gay marriage could lead to other attacks on the basic principles of marriage. It is possible that gay marriage will be seen as an opportunity by polygamists and polyamorists to attempt to obtain marriage rights. What logic could stop this if marriage is offered to homosexuals? If the traditional definition of marriage is stretched to include homosexuals, what rationale could prevent it from being stretched to include polygamy and polyamory? The same justifications for gay marriage could be put forward by polygamists and polyamorists; That there relationship is based on love and commitment. And, obviously, if marriage is extended to these groups, the traditional institution of marriage and the principles that it stands on will be damaged if not utterly destroyed.
Gay marriage is civil rights issue about ending hardshipsScott Bidstrup. "Gay Marriage: The Arguments and the Motives": "When gay people say that this is a civil rights issue, we are referring to matters like the fact that we cannot make medical decisions for our partners in an emergency. Instead, the hospitals are usually forced by state laws to go to the families who may be estranged from us for decades, who are often hostile to us, and totally ignore our wishes for the treatment of our partners. [...] These aren't just theoretical issues, either; they happen with surprising frequency."
Gays have no right to marry; neither do incestuousAdam Kolasinksi. "The Secular Case Against Gay Marriage." The Tech (M.I.T.) February 20th, 2004: "state recognition of marriage is not a universal right. States regulate marriage in many ways besides denying men the right to marry men, and women the right to marry women. Roughly half of all states prohibit first cousins from marrying, and all prohibit marriage of closer blood relatives, even if the individuals being married are sterile. In all states, it is illegal to attempt to marry more than one person, or even to pass off more than one person as one's spouse. Some states restrict the marriage of people suffering from syphilis or other venereal diseases. Homosexuals, therefore, are not the only people to be denied the right to marry the person of their choosing."
Gay exclusion is just to protect procreative marriageMargarette Somerville. "The case against gay marriage." McGill Center for Medicine, Ethics and Law. April 29, 2003: "People advocating same-sex marriage argue that we should accept that the primary purpose of marriage is to give social and public recognition to an intimate relationship between two people, and, therefore, to exclude same-sex couples is discrimination. They are correct if the primary purpose of marriage is to protect an intimate pair-bond. But they are not correct if its primary purpose is to protect the inherently procreative relationship of opposite-sex pair-bonding or to protect an intimate relationship for the purposes of its procreative potential. When marriage is limited to opposite-sex couples, there is no need to choose between these purposes, because they are compatible with each other and promote the same goal. The same is not true if marriage is extended to include same-sex couples. That would necessarily eliminate marriage’s role in symbolizing and protecting the procreative relationship."
Race analogy: Is gay marriage ban analogous to interracial marriage ban?
Discrimination: Is the case against gay marriage simply discriminatory?
All anti-gay-marriage arguments are ultimately anti-gayTod Lindberg. "The case against gay marriage." Washington Times Op-ed. 2003: "I think that once you grant the essential premise, namely, the presumption of equality, there is only one basis for saying 'no' to Mr. X and Mr. Y, and that is that what they are doing is wrong. The only serious basis for claiming that gay marriage undermines marriage (the union of a man and woman) is that the problem lies not with the 'marriage' part of gay marriage but with the 'gay' part. Thus, one denies the status of marriage to those whose union, being sinful or immoral, is precisely not that of holy matrimony."
Opponents of gay marriage are not simply "anti-gay"Jack Kerwick. "The failed case for gay marriage." Intellectual Conservative. February 19th, 2010: "Presumably, the mere fact that homosexuals are denied something that they value or desire proves that the resistance which they face is driven by 'hate.' The grossly simplistic and glaring question-begging of this reasoning aside, when taken to its extreme logical term, it's blatant silliness becomes obvious as well, for its inescapable implication is that whenever anyone's desires are frustrated by others, it can only be because of the latter's hatred of them." It should be noted that many supporters of homosexuality (such as Barack Obama), and many homosexuals themselves, oppose gay marriage, often in support of civil unions.
Stability: Does gay marriage encourage stable relationships?
Most gays don't care for marriage commitments. Most homosexuals are not interested in the restrictions and commitments of marriage. This simply argues against the notion that offering marriage will have a widespread stabilizing effect. Since very few gays will opt for it, little stability will be gained within the relatively promiscuous gay community.
Social gain: Is gay marriage good for society?
Gay marriage is beneficial where it exists todayAlliance Defense Fund on Opposing Views.com. Retrieved 3.1.2010: "Massachusetts no longer shuts committed same-sex couples out of marriage. The sky has not fallen, and actually communities are better off, because promoting responsibility is good for everyone. As observed by the Massachusetts newspaper The Republican, 'even some of [the] most vocal opponents have come to realize that the controversy over [allowing access to] marriage was a lot of fuss about nothing.' In fact, The Boston Globe reported that in the first election after the discrimination ended, 'every challenger to a supporter of gay marriage was defeated.'"
Gay marriage discrimination lacks compelling state interest"Let them wed." Economist. January 4th, 1996: "Barring a compelling reason, governments should not discriminate between classes of citizens. [...] One objection is simply that both would-be spouses are of the same sex. That is no answer; it merely repeats the question. Perhaps, then, once homosexuals can marry, marital anarchy will follow? That might be true if homosexual unions were arbitrary configurations, mere parodies of “real” marriage. But the truth is that countless homosexual couples, especially lesbian ones, have shown that they are as capable of fidelity, responsibility and devotion as are heterosexual couples—and this despite having to keep their unions secret, at least until recently. Would gay marriage weaken the standard variety? There is little reason to think so. Indeed, the opposite seems at least as likely: permitting gay marriage could reaffirm society's hope that people of all kinds settle down into stable unions."
Gay spouses can helpfully adopt orphaned kids. Many children in the United States, let alone the world are orphaned. Same sex spouses frequently adopt children in need of a family. This is highly socially beneficial. A child receives a family and no additional children are added into an over-populated world. And, gay marriage would increase the adoption rate, since many homosexual spouses will want to start a family just like straight spouses.
Gay marriage does not help society; can't justify costsAdam Kolasinksi. "The Secular Case Against Gay Marriage." The Tech (M.I.T.) February 20th, 2004: "Homosexual relationships do nothing to serve the state interest of propagating society, so there is no reason to grant them the costly benefits of marriage. [...] When a state recognizes a marriage, it bestows upon the couple certain benefits which are costly to both the state and other individuals. Collecting a deceased spouse's social security, claiming an extra tax exemption for a spouse, and having the right to be covered under a spouse's health insurance policy are just a few examples of the costly benefits associated with marriage. In a sense, a married couple receives a subsidy. Why? Because a marriage between to unrelated heterosexuals is likely to result in a family with children, and propagation of society is a compelling state interest. For this reason, states have, in varying degrees, restricted from marriage couples unlikely to produce children."
Gay marriage wrongly legitimizes homosexuality Al Rantell, a homosexual talk-show host in LA. “forcing a change to an institution as fundamental and established by civilization as marriage is deemed by gay activists and other cultural ’liberals’ as the equivalent of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for homosexuality itself. The reasoning goes that if someone can marry someone of the same sex, then being gay is as acceptable and normal as being short or tall.” This is a legitimate concern to individuals that don't see homosexuality as a natural and moral practise, and who would rather not encourage it.
Parenting: Can homosexuals do a good job of parenting?
Gay marriage is separate issue from gay parenting"Let them wed." Economist. January 4th, 1996: "The question of children in homosexual households—adoption, especially—is thorny. That question, however, is mainly separate from the matter of marriage as such. In settling a child with guardians who are not the natural parents, the courts and adoption agencies will consider a variety of factors, just as they do now; a couple's homosexuality may be one such factor (though it need not, by itself, be decisive)."
Quality of parenting should not be a factor against gay marriage This is because it is not a legal factor in ordinary marriages. Many characteristics of individuals would lead one to believe that there is a high probability that they will be bad parents, but this cannot cause the state to ban these individuals from becoming married parents. Neither should it for gay couples.
Gays raise children now, but at a disadvantage w/o marriage Gay couples currently have the right to raise children and they are exercising that right. So, first, to claim that denying them marriage is somehow protecting children is counter to the de facto reality. Second, those homosexual couples that choose to raise children, but who are denied marriage, are denied the benefits to child-rearing that marriage offers. This is unfair to the children of homosexual couples as well as to gay couples.
Gay marriage is a stable economic partnership"Let them wed." Economist. January 4th, 1996: "It is true that the single most important reason society cares about marriage is for the sake of children. But society's stake in stable, long-term partnerships hardly ends there. Marriage remains an economic bulwark. Single people (especially women) are economically vulnerable, and much more likely to fall into the arms of the welfare state. Furthermore, they call sooner upon public support when they need care—and, indeed, are likelier to fall ill (married people, the numbers show, are not only happier but considerably healthier). Not least important, marriage is a great social stabiliser of men."
Marriage ban impairs ability of employers to attract gaysLambda Legal on OppossingViews.com: "The exclusion from marriage also impairs the ability of employers, large and small, to attract and retain the most comprehensive pool of talented and committed employees. Current and prospective employees place a value on whether they live in a place that supports their commitment to take care of and be responsible for a loved one. They often will make their employment decisions based on whether the state respects that value."
Gay marriage's legal benefits would strain taxpayers While it is true that homosexuals would benefit financial by getting married and receiving the benefits of marriage, that is actually a concern in many people's eyes. The concern is simply that a change in law that allows same-sex marriage will suddenly create a major financial strain on taxpayers that fund marriage benefits. Hundreds of thousands of same-sex marriages would result from any cross-the-board legalization. Given the significance of the benefits provided to married couples, the new strains would be substantial on tax-payers.
Benefits: Is extending benefits of marriage to gays important?
Marriage allows gays to see each other in hospitals. Lambda Legal re-visits a story on OpposingViews.com about Bobby Daniel, a gay man dying in a hospital. His lifelong partner Bill Flanigan was kept for hours in the waiting room because he was not considered "family". Bill would later say, "When you love someone and make a commitment to each other for good times and bad, there is an awful feeling when you can’t follow through on your promises. I have a huge hole in my heart, and my soul, because I wasn’t allowed to be with Bobby when he needed me most." Marriage ensures that gay couples can see each other in any hospital no matter the circumstances. This is a fundamental right that should be afforded to couples.
Civil unions offer same benefits as marriageSusan Shell. "The liberal case against gay marriage." Public Interest. Summer, 2004: "Keeping the goals that advocates emphasize in mind, one can reach a principled and liberal public policy toward gay marriage. Most, if not all, of the goals of the gay marriage movement could be satisfied in the absence of gay marriage. Many sorts of individuals, and not just gay couples, might be allowed to form "civil partnerships" dedicated to securing mutual support and other social advantages. If two unmarried, elderly sisters wished to form such a partnership, or two or more friends (regardless of sexual intimacy) wanted to provide mutually for one another "in sickness and in health," society might furnish them a variety of ways of doing so--from enhanced civil contracts to expanded "defined benefit" insurance plans, to new ways of dealing with inheritance." See Debate: Civil unions vs. gay marriage for more arguments along these lines.
Religion: Is gay marriage acceptable on religious grounds?
Many faith groups welcome gay marriage. The Pagan religion Wicca, for example, has "hand-fasting" which is equivalent to a wedding, and which does not exclude homosexuals. There are other examples of religions that accept homosexual marriage. Therefore, we need to look at everyone and not just one religion.
Religious "rules" apply only to those in that religion. For example, if a Christian man opposes homosexuality because of his religion, he'll not marry another man to "obey the rule". But that does NOT mean that he has the right to decide if other individuals can/cannot marry. If your religion doesn't allow homosexuality, then just keep it to yourself; why not let others? It's not like everyone in the world believes in your religion.
Bible offers poor model for defining marriageLisa Miller. "Our Mutual Joy." Newsweek. December 6th, 2008: "Let's try for a minute to take the religious conservatives at their word and define marriage as the Bible does. Shall we look to Abraham, the great patriarch, who slept with his servant when he discovered his beloved wife Sarah was infertile? Or to Jacob, who fathered children with four different women (two sisters and their servants)? Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon and the kings of Judah and Israel—all these fathers and heroes were polygamists." [See argument page for extended argument]
Churches should not have to offer gay marriage. The state has an institution of it's own called the "Civil Union". The state should recognize civil unions between same sex couples, since they should be afforded the same rights under government as any other partnership (i.e. marriage). The idea of marriage should be defined only in the context of religious beliefs, and the state should not have any power over what the church deems as appropriate or inappropriate.
Legalizing gay marriage will incite attacks on Churches If gay marriages are sanctioned, religious organizations that don’t allow homosexual marriages and don’t recognize gay marriage as legitimate will come under attack for their beliefs and when preaching the bible. It may even come that preaching the bible and the same religion the United States was built upon, will be unconstitutional, charged with hate crimes.
The Catholic Church opposes gay marriage The Catholic Church is the most prominent of Christian institutions. The Vatican's opposition to gay marriage carries significant weight against the notion of gay marriage.
"The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality," from the Pontifical Council for the Family.
"Humanae Vitae"; "Love and Responsibility".
John Paul II's "Theology of the Body".
The Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Internationally: What is the impact of gay marriage internationally?
Gay marriage exists successfully in many countriesAlliance Defense Fund on OpposingViews.com. Retrieved 3.1.2010: "Twenty-eight nations have helped same-sex couples keep their commitments, and the sky hasn’t fallen. For the United States to lag behind so many other nations contradicts its own history and principles. [...] Same-sex couples can marry under legislation passed in Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, and The Netherlands. Such couples have many of the protections of marriage in Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay. And they have at least some protections in Andorra, Austria, Brazil, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Israel, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovenia, and Switzerland. That’s 28 nations ahead of the United States in keeping promises and helping couples keep their own promises."
Acceptance of gay marriage should not be imposed on citizensSusan Shell. "The liberal case against gay marriage." Public Interest. Summer, 2004: "That liberal sword cuts both ways [...] American citizens should not have the sectarian beliefs of gay-marriage advocates imposed on them unwillingly. If proponents of gay marriage seek certain privileges of marriage, such as legal support for mutual aid and childbearing, there may well be no liberal reason to deny it to them. But if they also seek positive public celebration of homosexuality as such, then that desire must be disappointed. The requirement that homosexual attachments be publicly recognized as no different from, and equally necessary to society as, heterosexual attachments is a fundamentally illiberal demand. [...] To insist otherwise is not only psychologically and culturally implausible; it imposes a sectarian moral view on fellow citizens who disagree and who may hold moral beliefs that are diametrically opposed to it."
Civil unions: Is gay marriage better than civil unions?
See Debate: Civil unions vs. gay marriage Civil unions are "separate, but not equal" During the 50s and 60 in the United States, a segregationist principle was established called "separate but equal" under the Jim Crow laws of the time. This was struck down by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, who wrote: "The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal." Civil unions are precisely the same arrangement, attempting to give gays a "separate" arrangement than marriage, while conferring "equal" benefits. But, because "separate can never be equal", civil unions can never equal. Civil unions, therefore, are unequal, segregationist, and discriminatory, just as were the "separate but equal" laws of the past.
See Debate: Civil unions vs. gay marriage. Sample argument: Civil unions offer same benefits as marriageSusan Shell. "The liberal case against gay marriage." Public Interest. Summer, 2004: "Keeping the goals that advocates emphasize in mind, one can reach a principled and liberal public policy toward gay marriage. Most, if not all, of the goals of the gay marriage movement could be satisfied in the absence of gay marriage. Many sorts of individuals, and not just gay couples, might be allowed to form "civil partnerships" dedicated to securing mutual support and other social advantages. If two unmarried, elderly sisters wished to form such a partnership, or two or more friends (regardless of sexual intimacy) wanted to provide mutually for one another "in sickness and in health," society might furnish them a variety of ways of doing so--from enhanced civil contracts to expanded "defined benefit" insurance plans, to new ways of dealing with inheritance."