Avoiding Marriage Tunnel Vision

The future of nonmarital relationship recognition is in jeopardy.  This is largely due to the current state of the movement responsible for the prior advancements enjoyed by nonmarital relationship statuses, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights movement, which in recent years has come to prioritize marriage equality over all other goals.  The movement’s prioritization of marriage equality remains a source of contention.  Many people believe that it is more important to pursue the goal of pluralistic relationship recognition, which involves acquiring legal protections for the diverse relationship and familial forms in existence today without regard to marriage eligibility.  While most individuals involved in the movement would not dispute that both marriage equality and pluralistic relationship recognition are important goals, the fear that these two goals cannot coexist successfully has come to fruition recently.  Marriage equality supporters increasingly engage in rhetoric that disparages nonmarital statuses, and marriage equality advancements have led to measurable setbacks to pluralistic relationship recognition through the repeal of nonmarital statuses in a number of states that have legalized same-sex marriage.  Occurrences such as these are unfortunate and unnecessary, but will not cease until the movement adopts specific strategies to advance both goals simultaneously.  This Article argues that ignoring the current disharmony between these two goals would be a costly mistake that would hurt many individuals both within and outside of the LGBT community.  It proposes a number of strategies, such as restructuring nonmarital relationship statuses and reconfiguring the movement’s messages, to aid the movement in successfully advancing both goals and ensuring that marriage equality advancements do not result in the eradication of pluralistic relationship recognition.