Most religious folk tend to define a lot of words based on religious concepts. For example, I’ve heard that “joy” is complete contentment that can only be provided by god. By that definition, a non-believer can never have joy. So, that word “joy” is loaded with religious context to some people. The word “marriage” is even more loaded because it is one of the sacraments of Western religions. Traditional Western religions tend to oppose homosexuality, and, therefore, they tend to treat marriage as a union between a man and a woman before god.
A lot of other people do not have that loaded definition.
It seems to be a stalemate between those that want to protect traditional Western religion’s definition of “marriage” and those that think being married is a civil right that is being denied to gays.
What I’m wondering about is whether offering gays a legally binding contract, the same as straight people get with all the same benefits and responsibilities, called by another name would be sufficient to end the debate. Can it be called “civil union” or must it be called “marriage”?
It would come down to semantics. Followers of traditional Western religions would still get to hold onto their narrow definition while gays could reap all the same rights and responsibilities as straight people. Gay people could even colloquially call it marriage, though the writ of the law would say something different. Or must it be called “marriage” for it to be equal?
If the name really matters, what if the state stopped issuing marriage licenses and instead offered civil union licenses to straight and gay alike. Getting the term “marriage” applied to your civil union would be something done at a church or some other ceremony that isn’t part of the state’s realm. It would be up to the religions to figure out rather than the politicians. Would that be acceptable?
Not having an intrinsic side in this debate as a married straight person who sees “marriage” as a broad term not associated with religion makes it difficult for me to understand the implications of an acceptable scenario, or if the solution is simply going to require either religious folk to give up on their meaning of “marriage” or for gays to give up their fight for the right to be married, both of which are untenable ideas to the respective parties.