The brilliance of the strategy is its ability to refocus public opinion, put conservative opponents on the defensive, shift public perception of the barriers to LGBT equality and broaden the scope of action to include the needs of people living in nonconjugal households, be they straight, gay or other. [my emphasis]
Furthermore, the broader struggle in Utah – required by a Super DOMA, which not only defines marriage as between one man and one woman but also restricts “marriage like” entities – has brought to the forefront
a simple but often overlooked fact: many basic rights and protections for LGBT citizens, including some on the CGI list [Common Ground Initiative, a platform that fights for a list of rights beyond marriage], are not guaranteed by marriage. Housing and employment discrimination, for example, could continue against married or cohabiting couples as well as single people. That point is very well taken in the current political climate, when marriage equality often stands in for all civil equality.
Getting around the Super DOMA forces activists to look at all relationships, not just marriage-like couples. The end result is that they are fighting for equality for all and really mean all, including the uncoupled.
This also has another beautiful side-effect:
Such proposals begin to make the diversity of households and interdependent relationships visible and highlight the limits of a marriage-focused gay rights agenda that prioritizes the needs of the conventionally coupled.
The work in Utah embraces the spirit of Stonewall and moves it ahead by fighting for all family constellations, including alternative ones. The critique of the exclusive focus on same-sex marriage seems to be getting louder (see also here and here and here). The time is ripe to build coalitions around marriage inequality and follow the Utah model to fight for rights for all people. It is time to call for full civil equality for all and really mean all!
Hat tip and big thank you to Nancy Polikoff for making me aware of Duggan’s great article!