But no matter how much we try to customize our marriage to suit our own wishes and values, in the end we are still conforming so we can live more easily as a family in our society. I am married now because it is the best option for my partner and me given our needs, within the confines of our laws. That doesn’t mean I am content with how things are.

In my opinion, an ideal revision of marriage and state-recognized relationships and families would include a lot of different things. It would include free and universal health care, more inclusive hospital visitation policies for all different kinds of families, broader options in the ways couples that are not married can fill out taxes, and better immigration options for all immigrants. In our society and in the current political climate, ideas such as this might seem idealistic at best. But we shouldn’t discount the need for real reforms that could help more people. We deserve more choices when it comes to how we identify, live, and thrive within our relationships and our families.

What if, instead of an institution that attempts to be all-encompassing, there were many options of equal status and we could choose how to identify ourselves with our partners in the eyes of the government? What if there were options for couples with children who don’t wish to marry, polyamorous people, couples moving out of the country, and those in a variety of other situations?

I believe that I can both take part in the systems we currently have, strongly disagree, and still do my part to challenge and change them.

I believe we are capable of change—and if that makes me an idealist, I’m okay with that. For as long as I live in this country, I will continue to vote, protest, and speak out about all the things I think we need to reform—including marriage.