Modern love has snubbed its nose at the state, writes Stephanie Coontz in an op ed piece in the New York Times, with 40% of US children now from unmarried parents. So it's time for the law to follow suit, and get out of the marrying business. Marriage licenses—a relatively recent phenomenon, historically—are about conferring "spousal" legal benefits, and those should go along with committed relationships, without regard to marital status.
Why should the US give Social Security benefits, for instance, to a widow of 6 months and not to an unmarried person who has lost a decades-long partner? It makes no sense anymore. “Let couples—gay or straight—decide if they want the legal protections and obligations of a committed relationship,” Coontz writes.