This ruling, of course, will stand only if it is upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, which would be a drastic and highly controversial step. But the justices might seize on the same middle option used by several states civil unions. The court could rule that equal protection requires giving gay couples the same prerogatives granted heterosexual couples, but not by the same name.
That course offers a compromise that, while satisfying neither side entirely, accommodates each in its central concern. It would show a respect for democracy and a humility about the role of the judiciary.
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