As I understand it, some religions hold that marriage is between a man and a woman, no other options. Thus it would seem anything except that would not be considered sacred/acceptable.
Not just gay marriage.
However, several things.
Yes, it could be argued that we are currently legislating a religious matter by involving legal financial unions and tax breaks with a religious union system.
Currently, a man and a woman (and man-man or woman-woman in some states?) can get "married" in the legal sense without religion, but religion cannot (contrary to what you say) deny you marriage. Any given religion can deny you marriage within that religion, but not in any legal way.
Obviously that wouldn't change, but I am saying that redefining the legal half of "marriage" by some other word, and then granting gays the option to take part, would most likely eliminate a portion of the opposition to it...by sidestepping the thing.
Obviously, any religion could then (and can now) marry two persons of the same sex according to the procedures of their religion.
Only difference would be the freakin' word, really, but that's important to some...probably even the majority.
The gay couple could call it marriage, but the persons who don't accept it as such wouldn't have to recognize it as such legally - as opposed to the current idea of simply extending the system.
Obviously, no matter what is done there will be some who want laws actually banning gays from getting married. But that's unconstitutional. There's a reason we have a constitution, and it’s to prevent people from doing such things.
Demanding that it be called marriage in the law is completely pointless, from my viewpoint, as is calling it any other term.
But it would probably eliminate a majority of the opposition, as well as removing much of the anger. What's wrong with that?
If what you are saying is what I think you are saying…
Then yes, there are currently two separate “marriage” parts, the religious and the legal.
Renaming the legal part to something else seems a fairly simple and easy measure.
Further, gay marriage is not being denied, only the right to legal gay marriage is being denied.
As to the preservation of rights that I mentioned, changing the legal word usage before extending the system to gays would preserve the right for people who believe a certain way to continue in their non-acceptance of gay marriage as valid.
Now, obviously they would still have that right, but enshrining it in the law would mean the had to acknowledge it legally. Which would cause issues…