Republican Orthodoxy

Ramesh Ponnuru admits that the theocon position on gay couples is not about marriage as such:

Giuliani opposes a federal marriage amendment, as do McCain and Thompson. He also, like those two, says he opposes same-sex marriage. Giuliani's campaign has also backtracked from his previous support for civil unions. He no longer supports civil unions that are too close to marriageand in his view all existing civil-union laws are too close.

He seems to be well within party orthodoxy on marriage law, in other words.

I can understand - even though I don't agree - why some people want to keep the m-word for heterosexual couples. I don't understand why it's also important to deny gay couples the responsibilities even of "civil unions." What does "too close to marriage" possibly mean? "Too close" to being publicly acknowledged and accepted? Or too supportive of the relationship itself? I wonder if Ramesh understands how insulting it is to gay couples when we read this kind of sentence. It is as if we have the civic cooties.