At the time of this writing, New York State has passed a Marriage Equality bill allowing same sex couples to get married. This obviously has caused a great deal of celebrating among Gay and Lesbian couples who can now get married.
I have to point out that as long as government is in the business of recognizing marriages, as opposed to civil unions, there is a problem. By allowing same sex couples to get married, the State of New York has simply expanded the boundaries of discrimination, nothing more.
First off, Marriage is a religious institution and therefore the government should not be involved in getting to define what constitutes a marriage. Furthermore, outside of specific cases involving minors (death of parents, child abuse, etc.), the government has little business in deciding who can legally be a family and those who cannot be a family.
What the government should recognize are civil unions. As I have mentioned before, this should not have to have any other restrictions then what are usually placed upon any other type of contract. Adults can engage in contracts, but not minors, nor will civil unions lead to people marrying their horses, pets, and assorted potted plants.
Of course, there are some specific situations that I would like to address further.
Well, that actually happens to be a rather traditional way of getting hitched. There is nothing more ironic than a defender of "traditional" marriage citing same-sex marriage as a slippery slope towards that evil institution of *gasp* polygamous relationships.
I admit that I have had my prejudices in the past. I was not as open minded as I am now about open relationships. However, I have since questioned that position and believe that as long as stringent safe sex practices are observed, there is no reason why any committed relationship has to be limited to two people. Philosophically speaking it is difficult to raise ethical objections against consensual relationships among adults, even those that involve more then one person. Why should the government not recognize them as well?
There is a legitimate scientific concern that people who are closely related by genetic lineage should not procreate as the offspring are much more likely to inherit a genetic disorder. However, those who argue that marriage equality will more likely to lead to incest should be advised that more states right now allow cousins to get married then same sex partners in committed relationships. Just saying.
Furthermore, if we do not give specific special privileges, like tax breaks for adults in committed relationships, unlike to families with kids or other dependants who actually need it, there would be no reason for people who are already related to legally marry. The purpose of civil unions should be to legally expand ones family, not strengthen already existing bonds.
As I have written earlier, civil unions should be for specific cases, to allow partners hospital visitation and the ability to make medical decisions when one partner is unable to do so and for cases involving child custody and inheritance when one partner dies. Ultimately, what is most important is that we have the tools to define who our families are, not have to face unreasonable legal restrictions limiting our options in that regard.