The following came up in a debate on a Ravelry forum by member Farfalla (note: you have to be a member to view it), which I found to be wonderfully eloquent and moving.
"An argument has been coalescing in my mind recently, as more and more religious people are making me understand that their definition of marriage is “a specific type of union that is sanctified by God according to their beliefs.”
"I draw your attention to an adoptive mother. She is not, biologically, a mother. But she is legally (and socially and practically) a mother. But none of that will ever make her biologically a mother.
"Let’s say a group of people, for some reason, decided that it was patently ridiculous for someone to be legally allowed to use the term ‘mother’ and have all the rights & responsibilities associated with motherhood when they were clearly, factually, not a mother biologically. They decided that the definition of a mother was a female who had borne a child, and to that child, or children, she was now a mother. Well, that’s impossible to argue with, right? I mean, that’s the biological definition of mother.
"To those religious people who believe that a marriage is any union between any one man and woman and therefore sanctified, that definition is as true to them as the biological definition of mother is a true definition. But that’s the key–it’s only one definition of mother. Legally, mother has another meaning. You can be an adoptive mother without having to call it “civil parenthood” or “nonbiological parenthood” or some other weird word whose rights were not clearly defined already and may not be recognized even if legal. You’re just a mother – a different type of mother.
"So why can’t we do it this way with marriage? To be a biological mother or a legal mother you don’t have to fulfill the same criteria. It should be that to have a (sanctified according to some religions) marriage and a (legal; has nothing to do with religion) marriage you don’t have to have the same criteria, either.
"The stranger who swats the cat away from eating my hair at night pointed out that in Connecticut, the reason they wound up with gay marriage was that they tried separate but equal (the civil union thang) and people weren’t recognizing it. Like, they passed a law saying they were supposed to be treated equally, but people weren’t. It’s not just a word. It’s over a thousand individual rights. That’s one definition of marriage. The one some Christians talk about is clearly another one. We don’t need another word, just like we don’t need to call someone a life parent or some other contorted phrase when they’re a mom of an adopted kid."
In other news, I have knitted two helmet liners for a colleague's brother in Iraq, an 8" square for a group charity afghan, a beautiful pair of Dragonfly socks for myself, and a very simple, plain vanilla sock that is probably going to have to be frogged, boo.