Kevin Williamson has a long, thoughtful post on gay marriage, and marriage generally in light of the vote in the New York Legislature make gay marriage legal. He comes to the same conclusion that I did a few years back when the same debate was taking place in Canada – cultural conservatives who argue that the State has no power to redefine the foundational and vastly more ancient institution of marriage are right in principle but very confused in practice expect the state to abide by its previous “definition” of marriage.
My own preference is to make marriage an entirely private affair and to remove the icy hand of politics from the marriage bed entirely. Marriage should be a strong, enforceable contract negotiated between the contracting parties; if the parties sought to have their union blessed by a religious authority, then the contract would have to comport with the rules spelled out by that authority. This would, incidentally, give the Catholic Church far greater actionable authority over the marital practices of Catholics than does the current system, and the same would be true for other religious congregations. If traditional modes of life really are self-evidently preferable to contemporary libertinism, then they should be able to compete in the marketplace of ideas.
Gay marriage is a mopping up operation for the left – no-fault divorce laws long ago put paid the notion that modern “marriage” is something special, something permanent – it’s just cohabitation with expensive entry and exit fees.