Get government out of marriage
There seems to be a groundswell of political movement intended to move the issue of marriage between gays and lesbians. I use the word "political" to encompass the actions involved in making laws and extending to the changing of stage/federal constitutions. And I use the word "marriage" to include not only the civil joining of two partners in a union that involves legal rights and responsibilities, but also the actions of churches to recognize the joining of two partners in "holy matrimony."
I observe that those who oppose marriage between same sex couples appear to do so based primarily on attitudes learned from religious doctrine, whether directly or as passed on from family members and perhaps other people who share similar conservative beliefs as to the proper conduct of individuals and societies. Those who so stridently oppose same sex marriage don't seem to espouse the same level of opposition to what are commonly referred to as "civil unions," cited earlier as involving legal rights and responsibilities. It is also clear that some people with markedly more conservative attitudes oppose even civil unions for gays and lesbians.
This problem strikes me as a failure of the separation of church and state much more destructive to a free secular society than the mere posting of church tenants in a courtroom. I do not see that the state of "holy matrimony" should establish legal rights and responsibilities.
I believe that the solution lies in making marriage a condition conferred by the church upon whichever couples they wish to join in "holy matrimony," or other sanctified status as they may choose to describe it. More importantly, I believe that the state needs to remove itself from what appears to be a strictly religious matter and decide instead which people may be joined so as to share legal rights and responsibilities.
Therefore, grandfathering what has gone before, laws/constitutions which are instruments of civil government would hereafter specify the issuance of certificates of civil union (title optional) rather than marriage licenses, and let churches document as they wish the ceremonies of marriage they would continue to conduct as they might choose. Surely, church officials could be authorized to conduct civil unions and marriages concurrently but a marriage without a civil union would not include any legal status.
There are probably many who should not be permitted the rights and responsibilities of civil union. Certainly adulthood and being of sound mind would be likely criteria and such unions would necessarily be restricted to two persons, neither of which is already in such a relationship. But, I can no more accept gender as a criterion than I might accept church affiliation, race, ethnicity, education, height, weight or wealth as a reason to deny legal rights and responsibilities to two people who wish to be legally joined. However, I am prepared to accept that one or all churches might choose to deny the state of "holy matrimony" to a Catholic and a Methodist, a Native American and an Asian, to two men or women, or to any other couple, according to the doctrine of the church.
It is not difficult for me to consider the following situation and the negative impact on a child. Imagine a child, adopted by one gay or lesbian and raised for years in a loving home with the adoptive father or mother's partner. Then, imagine the death of the adoptive parent with the state awarding custody of the grieving child to a person or persons other than the surviving de facto parent because he or she has no legal parental rights.
Would solving the problem as I have described be disruptive? The answer to that question is obviously, "yes." But then, it was disruptive to give voting rights to women and African-Americans and to integrate the U.S. military and public schools. Extending equal rights to those of our citizens who are disenfranchised has never been easy but it has always been in the best interests of America.