Eric Zorn writes:
Let the various churches, denominations and other belief groups decide who gets to perform the marriage ritual with whom, and leave the blessing and the consecrating to religious institutions.
And let the government handle the contract end of things. That's government's job—outlining the binding nitty-gritty of mutual obligations and privileges in legally sanctioned relationships.
One reason the debate over gay marriage gets so heated is that many Americans believe, as President George W. Bush has said, that "marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman."
But in that assertion lies the problem.
The way I read my Constitution, defining the terms of "sacred institutions" isn't the job of the government. Under our system, government isn't deputized to decide what is and isn't sacred or to make rules for the rites, rituals and other observances of faith.
Who is or isn't, can or can't be baptized, Christened, confirmed, bar mitzvahed, ordained, entitled to extreme unction and so on is no more the state's business than who is and isn't "married."