Many theocons argue that civil marriage is essentially a way to protect women from the depradations of men, to lock men into a relationship that they can't just walk out of without fulfilling some responsibilities. But this scenario exists for many gay couples as well. A reader, for example, writes:
My own relationship with my ex fell apart two years ago. We started dating in undergrad and then 9 years later with me in grad school for theater design and him a fancy lawyer, he left for someone with greater money-making prospects. I was left completely financially unprotected, him owing me thousands of dollars, having no access to "our" retirement money, and it being far too late for me to apply for the desperately needed scholarships to avoid what are now soul-crushing student loans for a starving artist - 1k a month (which I manage to pay regardless)!
It isn't that I feel cheated because our relationship would have had more meaning for each of us if we'd been allowed to get married. It isn't that I feel cheated because I'd be less financially destroyed if we'd been allowed to get married. Those are both true. It's that when telling my friends and family about this, I had to give every single detail of my situation in order for them to finally realize - "oh, it's like a divorce..."
Yes. "Like" a divorce. I then got wise and started calling the whole experience my divorce, and would get quizzical looks as they'd say "you were married?" Luckily, it seems the gays are allowed to use the patented "just try to say it's not a divorce and I'll cut you" look. Not having access to marriage not only de-legitimizes our relationships, it de-legitimizes our grief.