I thought this matter was settled. And apparently it's going to have to go through the roof, as it just has. It would not surprise me if the Supreme Court of the US decided to invent a right to marriage. Doing so would convince me, not that we're going to hell in a handbasket, but that our government truly sucks, and that America has at long last become a semiotic swamp.
It may have always been, and perhaps my instinct and everyone else's to distrust the legal establishment is well-enough founded. But I would think that somewhere in that hierarchy was a bit more integrity and some firm belief that the People could decide. But the decision of the people has been voided.
Lest you be some anthropologist from the future in which Gay Marriage is obvious and a right, looking back to these 'backwards' days, let me reiterate my position which has been modified ever so slightly. The slight modification is directly due to my previous acknowledgment of the degree to which our democratic institutions are incompetent.
Marriage is a social convention of great age and acceptance. So are the traditions of homosexual bonds between men, and between women. None of them are equivalent. It is a lie to suggest otherwise. The recognition of common law marriage in our secular democracy is an acceptable baseline for me, and in that is my slight adjustment. I mean to suggest that a "civil union" is as much recognition that the Federal Government should give.
I wish to make a distinction between Holy Matrimony and what is commonly understood as Marriage between a man and a woman. My opposition to Gay Marriage is twofold. Firstly, because of the implications of a redefined, state-recognized Marriage on various religions. Which is to say in the this case, that rights of free exercise and freedom of assembly are abridged if a gay couple can sue a church forcing that church to recognize them as married - the state's definition trumping the religious definition. This is my primary objection. This distinction needn't be stressed if the state stops at "civil union".
The second objection is more subtle.
I object to the fact that the offer of civil union was rejected by political activists for the cause of Gay Marriage. I interpret that rejection as an acknowledgment that their aims are social engineering. Which is to say, activists for Gay Marriage want the rest of the world to give gay couples the sort of respect and social acceptance that married couples enjoy. Aside from the fact that it is authoritarian, it attempts to get from the law what it cannot get from society - which is understanding and respect.
That judicial panels have been the undoing of several plebiscites in California only exacerbates the insult of this activism and it further hinders the cause of social understanding.
The longer this issue hangs around, especially in California, the less confidence I have in our democratic institutions to negotiate matters properly. That's bad news for all concerned. A state label of "Married" cheapens the brand, like a marriage license issued in Las Vegas it means less and less.
I hold out one hope. That should this degradation continue that the definition of Marriage will become so flexible and the law so contradictory that divorced women will not be able to sue for alimony. That kind of failure will be the inevitable necessity in the semiotic swamp.