I am confused by the controversy over gay marriage. Indeed, I am wearied by it and wish to settle my opinion and move on.
From the point of view of a secular society --- which, properly speaking, is the only point of view permitted any state save a theocracy --- "marriage" is entirely a matter of contract law. The duties, rights, responsibilities and privileges attendant upon "marriage" are wholly civil matters. In granting a "marriage license" the State acknowledges the intent of the applicants to enter into a specific binding contract definitive of such duties, rights, responsibilities and privileges and simultaneously indicates that it will recognize the validity of such a contract and administer it as it does any other contract freely entered into, as a matter of civil law. The State, therefore, is itself responsible for the current confusion and controversy by virtue of its continuing to issue "marriage licenses," a demonstration of its failure either to understand or to clearly express the nature of its interest and authority.
As its interest in and administration of this contractual arrangement is exclusively civil, the State can only issue licensure for entry into a Civil Union. This limitation on its authority holds regardless of the gender of the contracting parties, and the State can only decline to issue such licensure, again regardless of the gender of the contracting parties, to the extent that the applicants fail to meet the common criteria of age, rationality, and free volition requisite by law for entry into any contract. The resolution of the conflict, then, lies in the State's ceasing to issue "marriage licenses" altogether and, in accord with its proper authority, to issue only licensure for Civil Union. As the State's interest is confined solely to reality under law --- to the contractual nature of the union --- it has no stake in the semantic squabble; parties bound contractually in such a union are free to refer to their joined status as a marriage if they so choose, whether it is formalized before an exclusively civil official --- a judge, magistrate, justice of the peace, etcetera --- or sanctified by a religious body in accordance with the dictates of its communal conscience.