One of the main arguments made in favor the of US (or non-US) Government recognizing same-sex marriage is the "equality" one - that heterosexual couples have unequal rights with same-sex couples in that the former can have their marriages recognized by the state and the latter can not, and such recognition confers rights and benefits.

The solution seemingly uniformly advocated by Gay Rights groups is to adjust the rights to the "high watermark" to achieve equality - namely, for the government to recognize same-sex couples.

Are there any notable Gay Rights groups that advocate the opposite solution (which is usually advocated by libertarian-ish crowd), of achieving equality by moving to "low watermark" - namely, having the government not recognize ANY marriage, same-sex or heterosexual - at all?

(the practical implementation of such a solution is somewhat outside the scope of the question, but the usual proposed approach is 100% contract based).

I will accept pretty much any definition of notability - someone with more than double-digits social media followers, someone whose position was covered by mainstream media or notable online news sources, general or LGBT specific, someone involved with politics or especially holding an elected office.

UPDATE - I'm fine if the group in question words their position as "we are happy with EITHER of the 2 watermarks equally", e.g. as long as they view "No government marriage" just as valid a solution as "same sex marriage recognized by the state"; although if exists I'd rather like to know of a group for whom the first is the preferred option.

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    <comments removed> Please keep comments focused on improving the post and try to not to turn comment threads into miniature chat rooms and debates. Thanks. Commented Jan 10, 2013 at 19:22
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    Does it have to be gay rights groups advocating marriage equality, or will it also qualify if anyone else advocates for this solution to marriage equality?
    – gerrit
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 9:01
  • @gerrit - I'm mostly interested in Gay Rights groups, but any group having LGBT rights as a strong well articulated planc/position of their platform would be of interest.
    – user4012
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 11:11
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    I think one issue with "no government marriage" is that it's hard to implement in a single country. I'm irreligious but may marry because of other countries' visa regulations. Therefore I'd need some irreligious legal entity recognising a marriage.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 8:39
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    @DVK - I don't know if, when two people write in a contract that they are married, this would be officially recognised as marriage everywhere. I imagine they might only recognise public documents confirming a marriage, e.g. as in the Apostille. Could be interesting to find out.
    – gerrit
    Commented Jan 24, 2013 at 8:43

2 Answers 2


Wikipedia has a short list of articles about LGBT groups and individuals opposed to same-sex marriage. However, I don't think the right-libertarian idea that the government should not be involved in marriage is common among LGBT activists (let's face it, the LGBT movement and its predecessors have been dominated by left-wingers for a long time). More usual arguments are:

  • Marriage has too much misogynistic baggage (historically, in Western societies, wives were often expected to be subservient to their husbands), and should be done away with or replaced by an institution with a name like "civil union", "civil partnership", etc., to imply an equal relationship between two people - this position is sometimes held by lesbian feminists
  • LGBT people should not seek to assimilate into mainstream society, but should maintain an independent culture (I'm not sure what a good source for this is, but Google "queer assimilation" for ideas like this)
  • Marriage encourages the idea that long-term monogamous relationships are superior to other kinds of relationships, and should be opposed for that reason
  • There do exist some LGBT people who are religious conservatives, or even avowedly homophobic (Brian Sewell being one example) and oppose it on those grounds
  • There is also a practical argument that campaigning for marriage rights is provoking an unpleasant backlash, and that other campaigns (such as tackling bullying, violence, and discrimination) should be prioritized for the moment
  • Presumably queer anarchists are generally opposed to marriage

My guesses as to why marriage privatization isn't popular among LGBT activists:

  • Taking marriage away from straight people is, politically, far more difficult to achieve than giving it to LGBT people
  • LGBT people tend to feel oppressed by society as a whole, not by their government in particular - the government is likely to be seen as a tool to improve the status of LGBT people rather than an enemy
  • It would not directly provide practical benefits to LGBT people: some people campaign for marriage rights because it would be financially beneficial, or make it easier to arrange hospital visits and funerals and so on.
  • This appears to be a good answer but is lacking in citations to support the various claims you make. Rather than directing the questioner to Google, it would be good to bring that information into your answer directly. Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 18:58
  • #1 - could you please elaborate on bullet #3? It doesn't seem to compute for me. Why would LGBT group (as opposed to Poly D/s one) be against the idea that "long-term monogamous relationships are superior"?
    – user4012
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 19:28
  • #2 - The second to the last bullet is unfortunately true as far as their "feelings", but is in practice so idiotic upon even the simplest review of history (it wasn't soviet "society" that sent gays to jail and labor camps)
    – user4012
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 19:32
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    @DVK, it doesn't seem that fun when you can have no real argument to confute what people say, but surely the world is big enough to look after theirself, though.
    – user271
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 21:32
  • @Carlo_R. - whaaaaa?
    – user4012
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 22:14

Wikipedia has a good breakdown of the different flavors of this argument in this article. The argument was born out of the libertarian movement whose championing of individual rights above all else favors the idea of getting the government out of any agreement that is entered into willingly amongst two free individuals. As such, there is much less support from this argument from the liberal side of the spectrum and gay rights groups included.

However, that is not to say they are nonexistent. The same Wikipedia article points to recent articles from liberal leaning columnists Michael Kinsley and Alan Dershowitz in support of the argument on separation of church and state grounds.

The article does not mention, and I was unable to find any explicitly "gay rights" activist groups that advocate for this position. The reason for this is largely the same reason that these groups feel civil unions are inferior to traditional marriage and why opponents of changing the definition of marriage oppose it so rigorously. The longstanding definition does have power from its longstanding tradition and culture and excluding same-sex couples from that institution, by abolishing it altogether (which would exclude same-sex and heterosexual couples equally from the institution), is little better than giving same-sex couples all the same rights as marriage in a vessel (civil unions) under a different name.

As such, while there may be some tacit acknowledgement by individuals within these communities that no government recognition of marriage would be better than the current state, just as these gay rights groups do not support civil unions by and large but do not campaign against them either, so too would they prefer full marriage recognition to no marriage recognition for anyone.

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