It's always been my observation that the key reason why this is an issue at all is because it involves the word "marriage." In my opinion, the state's only interest in this matter involves its general interest in the law of partnerships, which is a subset of the law of agency. In principle, there is no difference between a man and woman getting married and choosing to share their economic resources and any two people starting a business and doing the same.
Of course, in this instance I am referring to childless couples. The presence of children obviously changes the equation. But I think that children are best dealt with, legally, through a separate category of law that may or may not having anything to do with marriage, especially today when DNA tests can easily ascertain paternity.
In other words, what I am saying is that from the state's point of view, there should be civil unions for everyone. The question of whether such unions constitute a "marriage" is none of the state's business. Therefore, it makes no difference whatsoever, from the state's point of view, whether a couple is of opposite sexes or the same sex. Does the government inquire as to the sex of two people who establish a business partnership? Of course not.
The question of "marriage" is purely a religious one, as I see it. It's between you and your church. If your church does not recognize your union, then you can either try to change its mind or find a new church. As far as the government is concerned, there is no reason for it to care whether your relationship is called a "marriage" or a civil union.
I think Stephen would agree with this, but I would appreciate his thoughts since he is a legal scholar who comments often on religious matters.
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