Marriage, as far as the government is concerned, is just a contractual obligation. The US government is required by the Constitution to see it as no more than a contractual obligation. To formalize the true religious nature of marriage would mean that they would be making a law respecting religion which is strictly forbidden by the Constitution.
Marriage, as seen by the vast majority of married people in the world throughout history, is a religious covenant between the married couple and God. It is very likely the most profound manifestation of religion in the average person’s life. The recognition of their marriage by the state (if such recognition even obtains) is strictly secondary and rather than enhancing the relationship between the married couple often interferes with it by producing governmental red tape and increased taxation.
Since homosexuality is an issue that each person must deal with themselves (or an issue that they must deal with between themselves and their god) and is not a matter that I am concerned about at all, I would be more than happy to allow, even encourage, the state to create a contractual obligation that has all of the “benefits of marriage” (which is mostly governmental red tape and increased taxation). But to say “recognize gay marriage” instead of “create same sex unions” is misleading at the very best. There is nothing to recognize. Not in the same way that the government “recognizes” religious marriages that have thousands of years of tradition behind them. Government actually does nothing for marriage, though it does do things to marriage (taxation, etc.). In the institute of marriage government is superfluous. It has no place. It is not wanted. It forces its way into marriage for one reason: revenue.
Same sex unions are not, in themselves, threatening to me in any way though I do have a few concerns I will talk about in a moment. The idea of same sex marriage, though, seems out of reach. Marriage is a religious institution, remember, and religions cannot be made to change their beliefs. If the belief system of the religion does not include same sex marriage they will not marry gay couples. If a gay couple shares the belief system of the religion they will not support same sex marriage either. And I ask you, unless a same sex couple shares the belief system of the religion why would they want to be married under it?
My concerns about same sex unions are these:
First, same sex unions (unlike marriage) are government institutions. Why would someone care even the slightest bit about whether the government sanctions their union? I’m married and I couldn’t care less whether the government sanctions my marriage. The government did not marry me, God did. I would not, nor would anyone else, buy a license if it were not required by law. The government taxed me by requiring me to purchase a license and then raised my income taxes so that it would be harder to raise my children. I would like the government to get the hell out of my marriage. People married in places that do not require licenses are every bit (perhaps more so) as married as those who are married where they do require licensing. My question is this: why in the world would you want to participate in a government created, spiritually void, institution? Unless you find a religion which believes everything else you believe, and believes in same sex marriage, a spiritually void union is what you will have. If you do find such a religion that believes as you do, and you marry your partner, will you be any less married if your marriage is not sanctioned by the government? Many heterosexual couples are married by their churches and forgo the license on religious grounds, they are no less married.
Second, if the government creates same sex unions now what will be the next re-definition of unions. This idea is, after all, completely unprecedented throughout history. Will people who want to include a third person in their relationship be granted “union” status? I know of a relationship that involves three people in a sexual, cohabitating relationship. They have been together a long time and are committed to their relationship long-term. If they are granted “union” status will polygamous heterosexual groups be allowed the same status. I don’t see how one could argue against three and for two at the same time. In any event, the language involved (and the issues that the language describes) in something this complex and far reaching must be thought out VERY carefully. Where would you draw the line? There has to be a line somewhere doesn’t there? Or are we to allow every combination of animate and inanimate objects to marry when they feel discriminated against? We can all imagine the combinations that people will try to get away with. Three, four, five people, cousins, siblings, parent and adult offspring, pets, furniture. Why are they different than same sex unions. No, really, why are they different? Some of the combinations can even produce offspring. Why should same sex unions be given preference over some other combination of genders/creatures/objects? If you have an actual answer to this the world needs to hear it because it’s not out there yet.
My third concern has to do, not so much with same sex marriage itself, but with decent treatment of other people. Is it right and decent to call someone homophobic or bigoted because they do not believe that marriage should be redefined. If they are in fact bigoted and homophobic and don’t want homosexuals to exist at all, much less have loving committed relationships, then yes it’s ok to call them what they are. But if they have real concerns for the religious institution of marriage, that do not have to do with homosexuality itself, then they are not homophobic bigots and no, it is not ok. If you want a true discussion you have to come to it without all of the emotional baggage brought to the table by many gay activists. The emotion is understandable, but not acceptable in a discussion; most people who don’t want to redefine marriage also don’t hate you. If you call everyone who disagrees with you a homophobic bigot you prove nothing but your own ignorance and you turn away people who might be sympathetic to your cause.
To sum up:
1. Marriage is a religious institution; if you don’t believe the same things as the religion then…why?
2. Same Sex Unions are OK but spiritually void, so…why?
3. MOST people don’t hate gay people (this includes conservatives despite what liberals tell you). Be nice.