The big discussion about the definition of marriage involving the right of gay couples to become married is mostly involved with a Biblical statement. But civil marriage - which is what most gays seem to be seeking in order to participate in the civil rights of married couples is performed outside of religious institutions and therefor should not rely on religious definitions. Am I missing something?

S&
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The big discussion about the definition of marriage involving the right of gay couples to become married is mostly involved ... married couples is performed outside of religious institutions and therefor should not rely on religious definitions. Am I missing something?

The devil is in the details, but I agree that a civil union ("marriage" might not be the best word here, as it is traditionally applied to heterosexual unions) is what is usually sought to acquire certain rights and benefits ordinarily afforded heterosexual married couples. The details I'm referring to lie in the careful examination of those rights and the determination if each and every instance of them should be applicable equally to both types of unions.
In other words, I don't believe that a blanket extension of all the rights that go with a heterosexual union should be afforded to a homosexual union without a careful reevaluation of each specific item of those rights. There is a chance that some of them might not be appropriate or applicable. It is, certainly, not a normal situation, at least not in some senses of "normal".
I do believe that there should be provisions that provide assistance to this particular group of people that are not in the mainstream of our society, as there are for other such groups.

Skitt (in Hayward, California)
www.geocities.com/opus731/
The big discussion about the definition of marriage involving the ... should not rely on religious definitions. Am I missing something?

The devil is in the details, but I agree that a civil union ("marriage" might not be the best word ... particular group of people that are not in the mainstream of our society, as there are for other such groups.

I appreciate the humane considerations and agree somewhat with the viewpoint, but my curiosity was more directed in why religious definitions are a factor in what is basically a government contractual arrangement.Traditionally, of course, the church was the source of authority in this matter but I thought church and state were separate in the USA. Perhaps by "normal"you mean openly accepted. It is most probable that stable gay arrangements are a tradition thousands of years old
S&
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The big discussion about the definition of marriage involving the right of gay couples to become married is mostly involved ... couples is performed outside of religious institutions and therefor should not rely on religious definitions. Am I missing something? S&

That it's election year? BTW, over here a Christian (1) church wedding doesn't count as a marriage unless there is also a representative there of the civil authority (from the Register Office) to complete the civil formalities. And, of course, you can have the civil wedding without the church bit. Is it the same in the USA? Or can you simply get married in Church with no other authority than the presiding Minister?

(1) I know this true of C of E because that's where I got married as did many of my relatives. By extension, I assume it applies to all Protestant sects. I'm pretty sure it's true of RC. I have no idea about Muslim, Jewish or anyone else.

John Dean
Oxford
The devil is in the details, but I agree that ... of our society, as there are for other such groups.

I appreciate the humane considerations and agree somewhat with the viewpoint, but my curiosity was more directed in why religious ... by "normal"you mean openly accepted. It is most probable that stable gay arrangements are a tradition thousands of years old

As I said, "normal" has many meanings. It is "normal" to encounter "abnormal" things or events in our lives.
I'd look to the laws of nature to determine normalcy, say, in relation to propagation of a species, and such. I'm sure you catch my drift. There's no particular reason to expound on this any further, especially in this forum. I don't have any real answers to the situation anyway, but I do make a distinction between the two unions we've been discussing. Oh, I'm an atheist, if that matters. I also see a lot of "rules" of our society (and those of many others) which I don't agree with, but such is life. I make do.

Skitt (in Hayward, California)
www.geocities.com/opus731/
In other words, I don't believe that a blanket extension of all the rights that go with a heterosexual union ... each specific item of those rights. There is a chance that some of them might not be appropriate or applicable.

I'm hard pressed to think of any. What did you have in mind? There are things like taxation status of a couple acting as a family, rights to adopt one another's children, inheritance, hospital visitation priviledges, ability to make medical decisions for an unconscious or incompetent partner, ability to be insured as a dependent, illegality of entering into a second marriage, right to not testify against a partner, ability to drive the other's rental car without paying an additional premium(1), and such. I can't think of a single thing where the fact that the two people involved were the same sex would have the slightest bearing.
(1) I don't know if that's mandated by law or just company policy.

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Over here a Christian (1) church wedding doesn't count as a marriage unless there is also a representative there of ... And, of course, you can have the civil wedding without the church bit. Is it the same in the USA?

Yes and no. Civil weddings without religious rituals are legal. Each state may have its quirks: the civil authority is usually an officeholding functionary but in Massachusetts (and elsewhere?), the governor can authorize anybody to perform a wedding. As to the state's representative who attends a church wedding, that could actually be the officiating minister: in America, ministers act as agents of the state, and can do the certifying necessary for the civil recognition of marriages. Ministers coming from another state to perform a wedding may have to get a local license. Variations on these points probably occur.
The big discussion about the definition of marriage involving the ... should not rely on religious definitions. Am I missing something?

The devil is in the details, but I agree that a civil union ("marriage" might not be the best word ... particular group of people that are not in the mainstream of our society, as there are for other such groups.

The only area I think can think of where there could be any reasonable (i.e. non-knee-jerk) difference of opinion is the question of adoption and other parenting (hate that word, but it's here to stay) rights for gay spouses. Everything else involved in marriage as a socio-political and legal concept is irrespective of gender of the two people, isn't it?
However, last week a Pamplona court ruled that a legally registered gay couple (men in this case) were just as entitled to adopt a child as any m/f couple. The Church, predictably, went apeshit. There was a golden moment during a radio discussion I heard the other day between a gay-rights activist and a priest. When asked by the gay guy why the idea of two men offering a loving, permanent home to a child was supposed to be an outrage when the child in question was currently under the guardianship of a whole single-sex community in a nun-run orphanage the priest's blush could be heard over the airwaves even louder than his blustering, change-the-subject reply.

Ross Howard
In other words, I don't believe that a blanket extension ... that some of them might not be appropriate or applicable.

I'm hard pressed to think of any. What did you have in mind?

I have not really given it all that much thought, but see below.
There are things like taxation status of a couple acting as a family, rights to adopt one another's children, inheritance, ... same sex would have the slightest bearing. (1) I don't know if that's mandated by law or just company policy.

Uninformed as I am, the part about adoptions gives me a pause. I still believe that for the more natural an pshychologically advantageous results, children should ideally have heterosexual parents to make them more "in tune" with the "standard" world. Promotion of a less beneficial environment might not be in the best interests of the children.

Offhand, I can't think of any other thing, but that does not mean that there might not be one.
Personally, I don't care much one way or another, but that is not necessarily a wise attitude.

Skitt (in Hayward, California)
www.geocities.com/opus731/
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