This Article explores some of the legal initiatives and reforms that opponents of same-sex marriage in Canada and the United States have pushed forward. Despite being animated by a desire to dilute the protections for same-sex couples, these reforms resulted in “queering” family law, in the sense that they functionalized the notion of family. Consequently, two cohabiting relatives or friends would be eligible for legal recognition, along with all the public and private benefits of such recognition. I term these kinds of “unions” and other nonnormative relationships to be “new families.”

The central claim of this Article is thus that new families should build alliances with conservative fringe groups and capitalize on their common interest in creating legal alternatives to marriage. Section I of the Article will provide a primer on the legal remedies available to non-normative relationships. Section II will engage in a comparative analysis of conservative reforms in the United States and Canada that ended up extending eligibility requirements to new families, or that, although currently restricted to conjugal couples, could constitute a viable model for protecting all new families, if their eligibility requirements were amended. Section III tries to operationalize legal recognition by analyzing the potential paths to gain it. I will first anticipate and respond to criticism surrounding recognition of new families, and then will lay the foundation for rethinking queer activists’ political action. I will then offer some recommendations (a) on the best model for implementation and (b) on forming alliances with conservative groups.