by Patrick Appel

I missed the following reader e-mail until just now. A reader writes:

I'm not sure how this illuminates the discussion, but here goes.

I am female. My best friend in the whole world is male. We are housemates, and have been for many years. We are both straight, but not interested in each other, and our relationship is platonic but deep (think Will and Grace if Will were straight). When I became unexpectedly pregnant with a man I was seeing at the time, we gave the situation much thought, and opted to make a pact that we would "stay together" (platonically) and raise my son until he graduates from high school, at which point my friend will also be retiring, and we will have the freedom then to go our separate ways if we wish (while remaining a "family" in our hearts) or remain living together, as our circumstances find us. The father of my son is also our close friend, though our romantic relationship ended during the pregnancy.

Whew. OK. We are unconventional, but happy.

As marriage and all the rights and privileges of such have been talked about so much in the news, we started to think-- maybe we should get married? What if one of us ended up in the hospital, etc., etc.? I can't get his pension if he dies (his father died young, so we think of these things), and all of the other aspects which have been so thoroughly discussed.

It saddens us to think that we could while a loving gay couple cannot. But it also made us wonder seriously if we should get married.

If there were civil unions, we would totally do that. But to get married? When we don't feel "that way" about each other? It's just... we take marriage too seriously for that. It's "MARRIAGE" and that means something very special. We have something very special, but marriage does not describe it (although in practice it is very similar domestically). We truly have a "domestic partnership". (That's what we tell people, "We have the only domestic partnership that isn't a euphemism.")

That should give you another glimpse into the weight of the word "marriage".

Oh, and it kinda makes us want domestic partnership laws anyway so we can have that, but we won't shortchange our gay friends by settling for any less than full marriage benefits for them. But still. It would be cool to have both. Not all of us fit into neat little boxes.

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