Mark Simpson, a gay writer from the UK, had some interesting words to say about California’s Prop 8-a proposition CA voters passed last month to amend the CA constitution to define marriage as between a man and woman only: 

Gay marriage is being presented by many gay people and liberals on both sides of the Atlantic as the touchstone of gay equality. … But not all gay people agree. This one [the author] sees gay marriage so much as a touchstone as a fetish. A largely symbolic and emotional issue that in the US threatens to undermine real, non-symbolic same-sex couple protection: civil unions bestow in effect the same legal status as marriage in several US states – including California. … Amidst all the gay gnashing of teeth about the inequality of Proposition 8, it’s worth asking: when did marriage have anything to do with equality? Respectability, certainly. Normality, possibly. Stability, hopefully. Very hopefully. But equality? 

First of all, there’s something gay people and their friends need to admit to the world: gay and straight long-term relationships are generally not the same. How many heterosexual marriages are open, for example? In my experience, many if not most long term male-male relationships are very open indeed. Similarly, sex is not quite so likely to be turned into reproduction when your genitals are the same shape. Yes, some gay couples may want to have children, by adoption or other means, and that’s fine and dandy of course, but children are not a consequence of gay conjugation. Which has always been part of the appeal for some. 

More fundamentally who is the “man” and who is the “wife” in a gay marriage? Unlike cross-sex couples, same-sex partnerships are partnerships between nominal equals without any biologically, divinely or even culturally determined reproductive/domestic roles.

It’s always nice to hear the opposition making the same points you do.  Simpson is right.  Granting “marriage” to same-sex couples is not about rights; it’s about respect.  And like Elton John, he doesn’t think homosexuals need marriage.  Furthermore, same-sex relationships are not the same as heterosexual relationships.  They do not function the same way in society, and they are inherently different (both biologically and behaviorally).  Why, then, should they be identified by the same name?