There’s another argument to be made when we fight state and federal marriage amendments. It has the potential to take back the debate because it’s about the Constitution and the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom.
There’s no doubt that the need for marriage equality is first and foremost about the civil and legal benefits that currently come with government recognition and approval of two people’s legal commitment to each other. It might be that the ultimate solution to the issue is to recognize marriage as only a civil issue with its legal benefits for everyone. Couples could then add the blessings of a religious institution of their choice to their union if they desired. Yet the history of marriage in U.S. culture and consciousness is enmeshed with religious images, sanctions, and overtones. That means that we must take those connections in American consciousness seriously.