Also, what is your view on government involvement in marriage? If we are to have a truly secular government, and marriage itself is a religious union between two people, then why should the secular government have any involvement in marriage? Isn’t the government overstepping its secular bounds by getting involved in marriage?
Marriage is not inherently a religious institution. If religion and government didn’t exist, couples might still form lifelong bonds. Some couples choose to have civil ceremonies only, and there’s nothing wrong with that. A civil marriage is really a contract that gives each spouse certain rights and responsibilities, and I emphasize the latter. There are benefits to both the couple and society to having these legally codified. Which leads to my second point…
And lastly, should the government be able to dictate who can and cannot get married? If there is a religion which accepts homosexuals, for example, and the government is a secular government, then what right has the government to refuse their marriage? Another church may choose not to accept their marriage, but they don’t attend that church, so it doesn’t matter if the government were truly secular.
Government has no compelling interest in denying civil marriage to same-sex couples. In my experience, the religious arguments against gay marriage come down to some claim about the will of deity, and there’s no evidence for such claims. And conservative believers often throw in Chicken Little claims about gay marriage leading to the destruction of straight marriage. It sounds like they expect straight men everywhere to leave their families and elope with Raoul the hunky poolboy.
There is only one argument against gay marriage that is worth serious consideration, and that is the claim that civil marriage is for the protection of children. The high court in Maryland recently used that reasoning to rule against gay marriage. (I give the court credit for not succumbing to the Chicken Little mentality. Although the court’s answer to gay marriage was no, it was a rather weak no, partly because it passed the final responsibility to the legislature.) Although the protection of children is one of the purposes of marriage, it is not the only purpose. Any legal argument around the “protection of children” claim would also result in infertile couples having no right to marry.
Not only does government have no compelling interest to ban same-sex marriage, voters have no right to ban it either through referendum, and legislators have no right to ban it through legislation. Private behavior that doesn’t harm others is no one else’s business - not government’s, not society’s, not the community’s, not the neighbors’, and not even the family’s.