Personally, I think that the institutions will catch up with the law. For example, once civil unions become recognized as the gay alternative of marriage of heteros, the insurance companies will begin to recognize civil union “spouses” for the purposes of health coverage, pensions systems, etc. all will follow suit. It’s a social change in progress but time will catch up to it. Other things like property, inheritance, can be handled by legal contract means.Which is about a US rather than Australian context, but as my original post was about our slavish following the US lead, it's quite appropriate.
I support the conservation of the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, even though I doubt I would ever agree to it… that’s an entirely different discussion however. However, I do feel it is a matter for the US States but at the same time I am concerned that a Supreme Court might take if upon itself to overrule the Marriage Protection Act in the future.
Recognition of a Gay Civil Union would meet the vast bulk of my objections, which are based for the most part on the misery caused by the numerous legal and practical problems facing Gay couples. Insurance, property rights, inheritance, that sort of thing. A de-facto Marriage in everything but name. Such a situation I could live with. It should be enough. And yet...
I feel like I have two people standing before me, asking for judgement. On one hand is someone whose Ideology (though not Religious affiliation) is close to mine, pleading that their Sacred Vows of Marriage not be devalued and debased. On the other, I have someone very different from myself who asks the simple question why he shouldn't be allowed to take the same sort of vows with his life partner, a guy he's deeply in love with (the sound you hear is my skin crawling).
The latter is a very simple, very human request. And I cannot answer him. So, on the theory that I should never let Ideology stand in the way of Common Humanity, I have to say that a Civil Union is not enough. Though that will hurt a lot of people who I admire and respect, I'm sorry, I can say no other.