Marriage represents a potpourri of arrangements, each made by a pair of individuals to share their lives in whatever lawful ways they find mutually suitable. Sometimes it falls pathetically short of their expectations in ways that are too numerous to mention, ranging from farcical to tragic. Nevertheless, each new generation likes to pursue happiness in this fashion.
Easy to be Hard
In the USA, at least, the certificates of marriage issued by the states are not religious sacraments. The US government and the states are constitutionally prohibited from any form of establishment of religion. These certificates of marriage are really certificates of civil union that confer certain rights and privileges upon the couples. Of course, a couple may also have a religious ceremony in any church, synagogue, mosque, temple, or bar and grill of their choosing that is willing to offer one.
There are some inevitable problems resulting from leaving authority over the civil unions to the various states. Specifically, must the civil unions issued by one state be honored in all of the other states; must a divorce granted by one state be honored in all of the other states. I mention these problems only in passing to remind us that the legal ramifications are not so simple.
Today's primary question is that of "gay marriage", more specifically, the civil unions of homosexual couples. There are two difficulties here. First, there is the long tradition, in which nearly all of us have been raised, that strictly forbade such a thing. Second, there is the confusion introduced by use of the term "marriage" for what is a strictly secular arrangement.
For a long time, I was opposed to gay marriage simply because of the residual effects of my formative years. I have recognized this. I have also come to the view that our constitutionally promised equal protection of the laws requires that the states issue marriage certificates to homosexual couples. This requirement can be fudged by opponents, using the argument that any person can be married to a person of the opposite sex but I find that argument to be too strained to be acceptable.
Jerry Falwell once pointed out that "the plumbing is wrong." That is a matter of taste which is best left to the principals.
My compromise position was similar to Obama's: permit homosexual unions but don't call it "marriage." However, since marriage by the state is merely a civil union by another name, that is just a sophistry designed to placate the most repressive religious ideologues. It makes no sense unless you would prefer a constitution in which the majority can trample the rights of minorities to the one we have.
Consequently, I have concluded that gay marriage is the right policy.
Why is Obama's position different? Well, as a politician, he needs votes. In my relatively undistinguished position as a mere geezer, I prefer rationality. We are both true to our values.
Hugh Hefner apparently agrees with me.
He has always been a leader in the sexual revolution. You can't poo-poo Hugh. Many decades ago, the Playboy Philosophy assured me that I would not grow hair on my palms and I can gratefully testify that he was right.