Of course, many Christian churches have a strictly religious term for marriage, that being matrimony. Indeed, in Roman Catholicism we talk about the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Unfortunately, until religious folks like the US Roman Catholic bishops realize they don't own the term marriage, they'll no doubt resist any "solution" that, unlike Veitch's, acknowledges and uses this term outside a religious framework.
It's also important to acknowledge that for most same-sex couples and families, the legal rights and benefits of Veitch's "civil contract" are secondary to the reality that only the word "marriage" conveys to all of society the joy, connection, and deep commitment that is made between two people who love each other. Accordingly, as I've noted previously, same-sex couples want to join in marriage, not redefine it. And I think it would be fair to say that the understanding of "marriage" that same-sex couples want to be part of is what most people understand as civil marriage, and not the understanding of matrimony championed by the Roman Catholic clerical caste.
Anyway, following is the "solution to the same-sex marriage dilemma" proposed by Robert Veitch.
The solution to the same-sex marriage dilemma is to make the formation of a family unit purely a matter of civil contract. Any couple ought to be able to form a family corporation, as equal partners, with all the rights and responsibilities currently included in a marriage contract, including the various tax advantages and Social Security rights.
Marriage should be something that religions can offer as a sacrament to those who wish to "sanctify" their civil contract. Religions can have whatever rules they like governing whether they will sanctify a particular relationship.
In this country, people are free to find a religion that accommodates their beliefs. The religious ceremony should have no legal standing and church personnel no ability to grant civil family unit contracts.
All legal issues should be addressed in the civil contract. Government has a strong interest in promoting stable family units no matter the gender composition. Stable relationships promote the general welfare; economic stability; productivity; health; child well-being, and lawful behavior.
Religious affiliation and the rules religions impose on their congregations are matters of individual conscience, and the government can and should have no say, provided that no laws are violated and no public funds are used.
– Robert Veitch
May 15, 2012
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Thoughts on Archbishop Nichols' Support for Civil Unions
Responding to Bishop Tobin's Remarks on Gay Marriage
Distinguishing Between Roman Catholic Theology and Civil Law in the Struggle for Marriage Equality
Kristen McQueary: "Yes to Civil Unions and Yes to My Catholic Faith"
An Ironic Truth
Two Attorneys Discuss Same-Sex Marriage