First things first let me say that I am an ardent supporter of the separation of church and state. This is one of the most fundamental beliefs I hold about the world around me.
It cheapens religion to put it in the State and the State has no business commenting or being involved with people’s faith.
The intermingling of the two caused some of the most bitter wars in Europe that the West has ever known and even today this lack of partition is responsible for making sure that the mortars keep falling in Kashmir.
So, to address what my title speaks of.
“Marriage”, the term gets tossed around cavalierly as if we al agree as to what it is and in which context we are speaking. Marriage as far as the church is concerned should be something about a mythical spiritual union between a man and a woman. Yes there is another use of the word marriage which specifies a legal or tax-related status between two citizens, this is civic marriage - the sole provenance of the secular, no religion before any other, Establishment clause and all that State.
For example if X and Y are civicly wed (i.e. obtained a marriage license) if X dies the property will automatically be given to Y sans much difficulty, X and Y can apply to own property in common, etc.
Now in the absence of civic unions being available in all states, access to this bundle of contracts and understandings is only availble to a man and woman who wish to engage in this covenant. A whole class of individuals are banned from these legal advantages and tax burdens.
This is wrong, in the eyes of the state, all people should have right to enter this covenant.
At the end of the day, however, if all states were to create ‘civic unions’ and we were to enumerate the rights and duties associated therewith and we were to compare the enumerated rights and duties associated with marriage, our only difference would be the sex of the parties involved.
It seems philosophically untenable that one would apply separate terms for the same enumerated list of duties and advantages.
That’s not to say it isn’t politically necssary, the Christian Right of course wants to make sure that their muddying of the partition between Church and State continues and will demand something like a constitutional amendment.
I also think that it is shameful that the President is using the Constitution as a wedge between the population. Shameful. I also think that it’s shameful that the Constitution is being used to define marriage.
This is also the take of Gavin Newsom, mayor of SF. Gavin’s not doing bad for himself on the political capital front either - getting his smooth as silk rhetoric (better than ol' Marblemouth in the White House) and Marina-District good looks blasted out on national media.