Assessing Alternatives to Marriage
This chapter examines alternatives to marriage that are available to same-sex couples. It first considers how the debate over same-sex marriage can lead to the slippery equity slope, in which one equity or fairness comparison generates another. In particular, it discusses comparisons between legally married different-sex couples and same-sex couples who cannot marry, between married and unmarried gay couples, and between married same-sex couples and people who are in nonromantic relationships. It then discusses the so-called political equity trap and whether there is a demand for alternatives to marriage and goes on to argue that policymakers, activists, and even voters must be able to decide on the right way to approach the issue of fairness for same-sex couples. Citing the experience in Europe and in states like Vermont and California, it suggests that alternatives to marriage are useful only if they are transitional statuses on the way to full equality for same-sex couples.
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