Last November when I was still living in Canada, I was invited to share an idea in an Open Public Forum sponsored by the Seattle Commission for Sexual Minorities. This idea wasn't originally mine, but from a logical and a fairness point of view makes a lot of sense to me. It seems the whole gay marriage issue boils down to gays wanting equal benefits, and straights not wanting their concept of marriage changed/corrupted/diluted.
In a nutshell: instead of the government issuing marriage licenses to only hetero couples, moving forward they would only issue civil unions to all couples. These civil unions would have the exact same rights, benefits and responsibilities that current marriage licenses currently have.
Here is a write up of the idea and the logic behind it:
1) Have the government issue civil unions to EVERYONE and marriage licenses to NO ONE.
2) These civil unions carry with them the same rights, benefits, and responsibilities as what is currently referred to as a legal marriage, and are offered to couples regardless of sexual orientation.
3) Churches can marry who they choose, according to their beliefs. As a marriage is a spiritual matter, it should be between a couple & God (and through their church or officiant of choice) and have nothing to do with government.
Strengthens separation of church and state. I don't want my government dealing in matters of the spirit, that's what one's respective church/temple/reverend/pastor/guru/etc. is for.
Does not force any beliefs on any church. Churches would only marry couples that fit into their belief system. No church would be required by law to marry anyone they didn't want to. Unitarian churches and others can marry same sex couples as according to their beliefs.
Someone who belongs to a church that wouldn't marry same sex couples would not have to feel that the sanctity of their marriage would be threatened, because that marriage would not be tied to their church.
Is this answer too simple? I think it solves the sticky problem of semantics for everyone.