The United States government really wants you to get hitched. Married couples enjoy over 1,000 specific rights and responsibilities under the law, from tax credits to immigration to health insurance. Here's the problem: Over 50 percent of American adults are unmarried, yet many of those people are nonetheless part of families or relationships that could and should benefit tremendously from official status.
As same-sex marriages gradually win legal and social status, it's becoming harder to make the case that these other relationships shouldn't be similarly recognized. Luckily, writes Diana Adams, thanks to the powerful tool of private contracts, families of all kinds can and do figure out ways to protect their love and family relationships with the people they choose.