I mostly skipped the “marriage in everything but name” option when I posted my thoughts on the New Jersey ruling this morning, but Kip stated it well in the comments:
Does anybody honestly think that New Jersey gay couples are going to run around saying, “We got civil unioned!”? Of course not; they’re going to say, “We got married!”
After a few years and a few thousand incidents of this, the politicians, or the judges, will give up and say, “This is silly — just call it marriage and be done with it.”
That’s pretty much the way I see it happening. I’d like to believe that the New Jersey legislature will accept the obvious and designate same-sex marriage within New Jersey as marriage. That’s what it is, so that would be the efficient way to do it. The purpose of civil marriage is the economic efficiency associated with not having to replicate a bundle of benefits wrapped into one contract. Why build inefficiency in for no other reason than the bigotry of a few. Call it marriage, and let the bigots pretend otherwise for as long as it takes them to realize they’ve lost.
Giving in to the inevitable avoidance of the word marriage, though, I suggest a public naming contest, similar to what a new sports team would run in the local media when it moves to a new city. This way, the populist ideals of anti-marriage marriage defenders can still play into this debate. If they stuff the ballot box, they’ll get their name that isn’t marriage. Maybe Joined in Sin or some other such stupidity. It could be a good laugh to hold us over until the masses come to their senses.
Of course, this will just end with an overwhelming vote for “marriage”, with the quotation marks, so I’m not sure how much fun it would be. At least New Jersey could use the same forms it already has, with two quick keystrokes for gay couples. Let me just get it out of the way now: Hacks, every one of them.