"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The First Amendment inexplicitly establishes a separation of church and state, even though the U.S. Constitution does not incorporate the precise words to sever state from church. But, it's clear these are separate identities.
As such, exploring the definition of "marriage" is essential for understanding all the raucous in the rift between marriage equality supporters and non-supporters. Marriage is, according to Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, "the institution whereby men and women are joined in a special kind of social and legal dependence for the purpose of founding and maintaining a family" (1994:713). A look at the church's traditional view of marriage reveals it is intended for procreation and education of children, as well as a holy covenant between a man and woman representative of the relationship between Christ and his church.
Marriages no longer happen solely in church. State performs civil marriages that are legally and socially binding, mimicking the church's take on marriage, but without God's presence. Climbing on board the politically correct bandwagon, many Protestant denominations are changing their definition of marriage to include a wider array of relationships. Even a current dictionary search will find the insertion of the politically correct definition: "the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage."
But, is this really marriage? Or is it a civil union? Merriam Webster defines a civil union as "the legal status that ensures to same-sex couples specified rights and responsibilities of married couples." So, it's marriage without God's presence. But, civil unions are not recognized in every state, marriages are. There is a check box on every major state document for "married," but not "civilly married" or "civilly united."
The real issue is semantics. The church's traditional definition for marriage does not match the state's definition for civil marriage. So, all states need to proclaim that a civil union holds the same power in the state as marriage and civil marriage do. And that is it. Leave marriage alone - better define civil union.
Sarah Kohrs, Mt. Jackson