For purposes of this Essay, the preservation of marriage in its present superior status, albeit not necessarily in its present form, constitutes a good. Further, it is a very high good within the hierarchy of values. Within the arena of domestic relations, in fact, there is no higher good. Marriage is the ground from which all other relations in an ordered society spring.
Extremists aside, gays and lesbians desire the right to marry because we value the institution, and we will herein take this state of affairs to be "good." That cannot be overstated. We like marriage, we appreciate what it stands for and what it entails. We (the gay and lesbian community) believe that we (the whole of society) will be better off both collectively and individually if we the gay and lesbian community) undertake its responsibilities and enjoy its benefits.
Accepting the specific goal of preserving the status of marriage, but in revised form, and the guiding principle that lesser goals must yield to higher goals, we arrive at the conclusion that anything undermining the marriage institution should be avoided unless one is willing to argue that an even higher principle is at stake. The question then becomes: What is the effect of domestic partnerships upon marriage?
Donovan, James M., "An Ethical Argument to Restrict Domestic Partnerships to Same-Sex Couples" (1998). Law Faculty Scholarly Articles. 441.