The importance of defending and preserving traditional marriage isn't just about a word, as though changing the term would make government endorsement of same-sex unions okay. That's why I've never considered domestic partnerships recognized by government a compromise position - it creates the same institution recognized by government with a different label. It's the public recognition that implies approval that is the problem, not what we call it.
The debate over same-sex marriage is about whether marriage is some thing. Whether there's an objective fact of what marriage is, whatever the term is. Whether we recognize a natural institution that is a feature of the world or whether we define reality by consensus because it's all relative anyway. This is a debate about the nature of the world and whether or not we can derive conclusions about proper functioning, not terminology. This is about philosophy, metaphysics, and ethics, not religion.
Here's the next salvo in California, which conveys a proposal that's been around for a while:
Supporters of this ballot measure want to replace it with the term "domestic partnership," while keeping all the rights of marriage in place.
The proposal is in response to a voter-approved gay marriage ban that passed in November. The new measure would repeal the ban, and define domestic partnerships as unions between all couples, regardless of sexual orientation.
Supporters point out that people could still get married in their churches. And that betrays the problem behind this proposal: Marriage is not a religious institution; it's a natural one. Marriage has been practiced across history, across cultures, and across religions, and societies have rightly judged that there is an advantage in stable families raising the next generation.
This is another way of relegating the defense of marriage as merely religious and therefore out of bounds in government because, supposedly, religious views have no place in the public square. They're subjective and private. This is another example, as we see too often these days, of dismissing rational and philosophical arguments that never appeal to religion without any attempt to refute them.
Marriage is a natural institution, not a religious one because men and woman are made for each other, whether you think that we evolved or were created. It's a physical fact, not a religious one. Marriage is good for society and has been recognized to be so for centuries. Domestic partnerships may serve a political agenda, but they hardly serve the same society purpose that marriage does.