There are different ways one can talk about the effort by gay individuals, and gay rights organizations, to convince courts and legislatures to recognize marriages for same-sex couples. The most common way to talk about this effort, certainly in political circles, is to talk about gaining "the right to marry." In an early advocacy piece, written by Tom Stoddard and entitled Why Gay People Shou/d Seek the Right to Marry , Stoddard made the follow ing point:

First, and most basica11y, the issue is not the desirability of marriage, but rather the desirability of the right to marry. That I think two lesbians or two gay men should be entitled to a marriage license does not me an that I think a11 gay people should find appropriate partners and exercise the right, should it eventually exist. 1 This way of talking about "the right to marry" is consistent with a

widely-accepted form of liberal political theory that believes political discourse should be about "rights," not about conceptions of the "good." As Carlos Ball describes quite succinctly in arecent article: "A central component of contemporary liberalism has been to call for a moral bracketing in matters of public reasoning; namely, for a strict separation between the differing conceptions of the good held by individuals and the broader political discourse that seeks to define individual rights and formulate public policy. "2