One of the primary justifications used by advocates for legalizing marriage between members of the same sex is that the legal and financial protections normally accorded to spouses in heterosexual unions is not available to same-sex life partners.
One way to address this without hollowing out the institution of marriage as practiced by people of faith (or rending the American polity) would be to recognize in both law and language a clear distinction between civil unions and religious marriages. A civil union would be a strictly legal binding process, whereas a religious marriage would take place within the laws and customs of a faith. The state would have no power to order a priest, imam, minister, or rabbi to conduct a same-sex union, and each religion/order would be free to address the question independently.
Thus, to the extent that there needs to be a civil framework for unions occurring outside theologically acceptable bounds, we need to arrive at a common (read “national” as opposed to “state”) set of legal principles so as to keep distinct sanctified and codified relationships. This is fair. What is not fair or correct, however, is a state-led effort that by word or deed dilutes the importance or value of a faith-based marriage. While the state may decide to place legal equivalence on faith-based marriage and civil unions, they cannot legislate a moral equivalence. To attempt to do so would see the government operating outside the bounds of the U.S. Constitution.
It is important for us to get past this debate because we must stop focusing on the marital process and turn our focus where it belongs: on the creation and support of healthy, nurturing families.
- If You Appease Bullies… (patheos.com)