Much ado about Gay marriage and how, if allowed, the sanctity of marriage will erode. Well, the sanctity of marriage already has eroded given the number of divorces, remarriages, divorces after remarriages, etc. that have occurred.
Let's get to the core of this issue. Many heterosexuals are uncomfortable with Gays and the idea of Gays coupling. Some heterosexuals believe Gay's are immoral and doomed to Hell. Some just don't think it's natural. Some are okay with Gay couples. So be it. I say this because forcing one set of beliefs onto another person is very dangerous business. If the Gay community is looking for legitimacy in "marriage" from the heterosexual community then Roman Catholics should expect approval of their faith from Southern Baptists any day now.
Many people of religious affiliation choose marriage in a church, mosque, or synagogue because they want to be spiritually bound in the faith they practice. This is good. States accept this ceremony as proof of a legal civil union. This is good. Spirituality and law are in congruence. How the spiritual side differs from the legal side varies with each faith as it is practiced. This is good.
In some faiths, if one of the flock marries outside the faith, special "permissions" need to be obtained. In some faiths, marrying outside the faith is considered the "death" of the congregation member. Each faith, and within each faith the local practice of the faith, has its view on what constitutes a marriage.
I'd like to suggest we separate the concept of marriage from civil unions. After all, a Roman Catholic couple could get married at City Hall and be legally married in the eyes of the State, but the Church does not considered them married until a proper Wedding Mass is held. Yet, if the couple gets married in the Church, the State automatically recognizes the civil union. Something amiss here. Some states still recognize common law marriages. This is a civil union that is created after certain requirements are met, and the couple is as legally bound as if they were married, yet no church or legal entity performed the ceremony.
If we separate the concept of marriage from civil unions, States could continue to do what many do already - recognize registered domestic partners for various legal protections, insurance coverage, etc. The Federal Government could do the same. Tax considerations, child custody, etc. could be based upon the legal union status of the couple, not the spiritual status. The debates could be over the legal obligations of the couple rather than including the spiritual obligations.
As for marriage, a Gay couple seeking marriage would need to find a church that accepts this practice. Once married in this church, the State would recognize a civil union. Other churches and faiths would be free to view the couple as not being married, yet the State recognizes a legal obligation the couple has to each other. This is similar to the Roman Catholic couple getting married at City Hall. A legal obligation exists, but their church does not recognize the spiritual marriage.
My basis for being comfortable with the separation of marriage from a civil union is because the commitment I made to my wife transcends the bounds of human law. The laws of this earth regulate what treatment we receive as a couple, but only my faith affects the spiritual side. Whether someone else's faith recognizes me as married or not does not matter to me. Whether someone else's faith thinks I doomed to Hell or not does not matter to me. I believe spirituality is an individual journey, and as such is a personal matter.
You may decide for yourself if I'm sane or not. That is your personal choice. Until the State has legal documents as to my lack of sanity, I'm considered sane. Marriage is spiritual and open to personal beliefs. Civil unions are legal matters. Let's separate them.