In other words, in the United States cohabitation appears to have been equated with “going steady,” a transient state that would either terminate or transform into marrage; from this perspective, there was no need to adapt the institutional and legal apparatus to it. Canada, on the other hand, by viewing and treating cohabiting unions as equivalent to marriage from the start, has been more prepared for the way in which these unions are

evolving on both sides of the border toward an alternative, and not simple a prelude, to marriage. This attitude has also given the Canadian government greater control over these noncontractual unions. The fact that couples in cohabiting unions have been able to claim federal tax credit for their dependent partners since 1993 was mentioned by Smock and Gupta as an example of the equivalence of cohabiting and married unions. An important effect of this particular clause (and probably the motivation behind it) was, in fact, to close tax loopholes previously open to cohabiting couples!