But what is marriage anyway? And what institutions should be allowed to determine who can and can't be married to one another - or what "marriages" must be recognized by what institutions?
Should the government, state or federal, be the decider? (Thanks to George W. Bush for bringing that silly word into common parlance.)
No. Backing the government as the institution to define private social order seems out of whack to me. I know that government has assumed the role for years, centuries even. But should government be allowed to tell churches, denominations, or religions (most of which don't recognize or allow same-sex marriage - link here for a rundown). Again . . . no. Government telling Catholics or Mormons or Southern Baptists or Methodists or Muslims that two men or two women are "married" doesn't seem right to me. And it wouldn't seem right that government could tell members of the United Church of Christ or Reformist Jews that gay couples could not be wed. To me it is a matter of religious freedom and government has no place.
But the issue does not stop there. Gay couples don't just want to be "married." They want the rights and privileges that extend to married couples in the law. And that is a different issue. It is the government's place to determine whether or not couples, gay or straight, should be given legal advantages over individuals or other groups. Those issues could and should be addressed cooly, calmly, and individually rather than collectively in the heated debates that we've seen over same-sex marriage.